SubRosa – No Help For the Mighty Ones (Profound Lore Records)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

How Profound Lore stumbles across bands like Salt Lake City’s SubRosa is anyone’s guess, and it’s getting to the point where a “Profound Lore” sound could be in order. That is, unless label honcho Chris Bruni decides to drop more bands like (black metal) Krallice on us. That would screw the whole thing up.

In line with the organic doom-meets-avant-garde slant that is currently permeating the underground (see: Kylesa, Worm Ouroboros, etc.), SubRosa benefits from the homespun, but slightly nasally vocals of lead singer Rebecca Vernon. When coupled with a barrage of electric violins, No Help For the Mighty Ones evokes a discomforting feeling, which is enriched by the band’s deft use of slow, methodical riffs. And like most of the bands of this ilk, they tend to stumble over themselves for the sake of experimentation and atmospheric bits (see: most of the middle of the album), only to find their stride at just the right time. Which is exactly what happens here.

The album is essentially has the bookends of opener “Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes” and the massive “Whippoorwill” to hold it together. “Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes” benefits from a clunky, but ingrained trade-off between Vernon’s vocals (they’re more of a chant than actual singing at times), and somber violins. It’s incredibly climatic and catchy, and would probably hit the indie kids smack dab in the eye if they were looking. A similar case can be made for “Whippoorwill,” which is anchored by a slow, churning doom riff, and drawn-out violins that hit various emotional targets throughout. The song is followed up by the traditional Celtic folk song “House Carpenter,” which showcases the vocals chemistry between Vernon and Sarah Pendleton.

No Help For the Mighty Ones in essence, forces the listener to not think about how female-dominated SubRosa is. It’s not common to find a band with 3/5’s of its lineup being chicks, but the band has the potential to break some serious conventions here. Even with two of its songs being total winners (don’t think the rest of the album is crap – it’s not), No Help For the Mighty Ones is another avant-garde metal exploration that needs to be heard from Profound Lore.

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