Review / Warrior Pope – Mellified Man

Bristol outfit Warrior Pope‘s take on doom is extremely calorific; syrupy and dense, it leans towards psych and noise influences to produce a consistently warm, rich sound. With a mass-and-volume approach and a low-fi aesthetic, the record is heavy on ideas and light on structure, meandering through passages and emerging warped and blistered.

The record switches between doom and some otherworldly, experimental sounds. The doom sections themselves switch between typical stoner doom and longer, warmer sections. There’s a lot of Earth‘s The Bees Made Honey… here, both in subject material and sound, songs weaving and transforming, moving through passages at a glacial pace. There’s also shades of Adrienne Davies’ deep, commanding bass drum sound here, which helps keep things rooted. Elsewhere can be found some strange noises, scraping and whirring sounds that are hard to place.

When the band kick off they favour long groovy numbers with meandering riffs, punctuated by percussive stabs and winding guitar passages. There are moments where it doesn’t quite feel like it hangs together before it draws itself back, but taken with the massive riffs it feels like it’s bursting at the seams rather than struggling to keep up.

The mood is consistently creepy throughout, reaching the heights on the eerie, watery growl of ‘Saporific Process’. These moments are often balanced with engaging stoner sections which keep things moving. There are a lot of left-of-centre ideas that pop up around the mid-section, and the album tends to develop new ideas quite suddenly before moving onto the next; it’s an unorthodox way of writing songs, and casual listeners may be thrown off a little. But the long sections are as teeth-clenchingly heavy as the best of the genre, and after a while the moments where they stray from the path start to crystallise and come across as endearing. These ideas are a great strength for the record, flaring up and simmering back down into the morass. 

Mellified Man is a scattered, choppy take on the genre, and takes a few deep listens to make sense. Nonetheless it’s an engaging record, and the weirdness works well alongside the more reliable stoner doom. There’s a lot here to like, and worth the reward, just like carving through honey to reveal a mummified figure deep inside. Mellification now joins the hallowed ranks of historical things of questionable veracity that heavy metal likes. And, like the blood eagle before it, that’s pretty cool.

Mellified Man is out now. Order here.

Words: Tom Coles