Age of Taurus – Desperate Souls of Tortured Times (Rise Above/Metal Blade)

Friday, 7th June 2013
Rating: 8/10

Rise Above head Lee Dorrian probably sees a lot of himself and his soon-to-be former band Cathedral in London’s Age of Taurus. On their Desperate Souls of Tortured Times debut, there’s loads of Cathedral-mongering taking place, albeit not on the wacky scale and partially abstract scale that came along with the band’s 90’s/early 00’s output. Age of Taurus is the spacious doom without the fat, in essence, coming in like an offshoot of not only Cathedral, but The Sword as well. Therefore, this is not a totally narcissistic signing for Mr. Dorrian, although no one would fault the man if it were…

The story with Age of Taurus is that they are a 2009 creation of singer/guitarist Toby Wright, who originally intended for the band to be a one-man project and nothing else. As it would come to be, the band started gaining recognition in doom circles, prompting the man to put together a full band. The resultant Desperate Souls of Tortured Times is according to the band’s bio, “a trip through the Taurean Empire, where disease, war and corruption is rife. A wretched place of man and beast, where deception, fear and despair fills every dank alleyway and the stench of suffering drifts across endless, sun-scorched plains.” Nice script-writing.

Cool jams are a-plenty here, starting with opener “A Rush of Power,” where Wright and gang use repetition to drive home the edge of their super-charged doom riffs. There’s no shortage of heaviness here, but it’s all palpable, most notably “Always in the Eye,” a song that would get the famed Trouble guitar duo of Franklin and Wartell excited if they were hanging at the band’s practice pad. Elsewhere, the brash “Walk With Me, My Queen” and tumultuous eight-minute “Embrace the Stone” are exacting classic doom jaunts, guided by Wright’s hearty vocal palette.

Keeping in mind that not everything Dorrian touches turns to gold, Age of Taurus was a keen signing by Rise Above. As the label continues to grow, diversifying its portfolio (wow, that sounds corporate, eh?) should become more of a priority as opposed to satiating those looking for imitators. Age of Taurus aren’t mold-breakers, but they push a lot of terrain.

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