Reverend Bizarre II: Crush the Insects

After the utter roar of their first two releases, Finland’s doom demagogues Reverend Bizarre unleash their latest platter with a relative whimper. Crush the Insects is more streamlined and faster, seemingly geared toward the stoner trend of the late ’90s but with mixed results. The Iron Rainbow-ish opener "Doom over the World” is four minutes too long with its excessive repetition and metal-mocking falsettos at the coda. "The Devil Rides Out” fares much better than "Cromwell” and its seemingly forced grooves. The 13-minute opus "Slave Of Satan” hearkens back to the suffocating riffage of 2003’s Harbinger Of Metal EP but suffers from a vein of lyrical cheesiness from vocalist/bassist Albert Witchfinder: "Let me tell you this/I have seen the Prince of Darkness/and he’s nothing to be messed with.” Fortunately, "Council of Ten” reprises the band’s smothering 16-rpm doom of yore, along with the even grander "By This Axe I Rule!” The album highlight "Eternal Forest” succeeds on the strength of its slow-mo rippling riffage, pealing cymbal crashes, and funereal bass tones. The eleven-minute finale "Fucking Wizard” ensues with chordage similar to Black Sabbath’s eponymous song but then mucks it up with an indiscriminate double-timed passage to end the album on a sour note. Usually known for their uncompromisingly slow doom, Reverend Bizarre have taken an unusual turn for the worse here, for Crush the Insects lacks their apocalyptic finesse. (Spikefarm)