I’ve been on an unhealthy quest for doom metal albums lately, particularly Minotauri albums. The band has long since disbanded and given the limited quantities released in Europe, what chance does a New Yorker have of obtaining a physical copy from a record store? The answer is 0 as no one at any record store has ever heard of this band. But what about Amazon and eBay? After all, this is 2016 right? With the current starting price at $244.00 for a used copy on Amazon and virtually no listings on eBay, I’d say I was pretty much screwed. Luckily for me, my prime membership came through for something. 1 new copy appeared for $22.99 but with 1 catch, it had to be imported. Without thinking it over I quickly purchased it and it arrived 12 days later in my mailbox.
The bulk of the album is made up of previously recorded tracks that go back as early as 1995, something that caught my attention right form the start. You may start out with a song recorded in 2005 but the next song might be from 1998 and this sort of random placement will throw you off as consistency was a second thought. You might be asking yourself “why is this a bad thing?” and my answer to you is, the production. Different time spans feature different sounding production and that is the album’s main flaw. Vocalist Ari Honkonen will sound young and full of life in one song but he’ll sound deep and miserable in the next song. You might even mistake him for someone else entirely. It’s inconsistent but it was a necessary evil the band had to accept. Overall, the music is good but I didn’t enjoy it as I much as I thought I would. Praise does go to the band’s decision to include many of the tracks recorded from previously released E.P.’s as they were limited to 500 copies each. Songs like “Cemetary of The Shadows”“Singing In The Grave” and my personal favorite, “Paid Love” were featured on such E.P.’s but have now made there way onto this album but with better mastering. A huge plus. The band would later give us a much more stellar and more focused project with their second album II which is their definitive and sadly, their final release. Minotauri is one for the die hards of doom metal and a must have for that particular group of fans. It is worth tracking down especially if you can’t find the previous E.P.’s which were only released on vinyl.
Let me start of by saying that this was not an easy album to track down. Limited copies, virtually no record stores here in New York & outrages prices on both eBay and Amazon made this a mission that was almost impossible. Doom Metal. What can I say? A genre that for so long I’ve ignored only to find out that I had been a fan all along in the form of early Black Sabbath songs like Electric Funeral and Hand of Doom.
Hailing from Finland, Minotauri’s II album was actually my introduction to the genre in the form of a complete project. The band didn’t have a great vocalist. They didn’t even have stellar production but what they did have were a set of skills….. no wait. What they did have were a set of slow, heavy, riff driven songs that absolutely worked. The absence of quality production actually helped as the guitars sound even heavier and distorted despite the riffs having quite a bit of melody to them. This the highlight of the album and you’ll be humming the riffs for days. The lyrics and the songs cover a variety of topics such as love and the betrayal that may come with it (the track “Misery” is an example) or the cliché accusations of worshiping the devil as was the case in the excellent track “Under The Cross”. As with most Doom Metal albums, the lyrics are full of darkness, sadness, satanic imagery and despair which may put off newer listeners but if you’ve listened to Black Sabbath, then it should come as no surprise to you. At only 10 tracks total, Minotauri managed to record an album that was nearly perfect from start to finish. If you want quality Doom Metal, this is it.