Occult rock, beset by Ghost comparisons for over a decade now, is a tricky nut to crack. The likes of Orchid, Blood Ceremony and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have put on a good show for some time now but, on the whole, the legions of bands churning out sub-par paeans to Blue Öyster Cult far outweighs those actually putting out material worth investing in (or such is the opinion of this writer, anywho). Even Ghost haven’t managed to match the majesty of their debut album Opus Eponymous (2010), so what chance have Ohion occultists Doctor Smoke in turning us all to the dark side?
Well, if Dreamers and the Dead is anything to go by, Doctor Smoke have struck a particularly savvy deal with the devil that’s guaranteed them modern occult rock immortality! That good, eh? Well, yeah! Open wide because this smoky ol’ Doctor has gallons of ritual-infused goodness to pour down your neck….and the best part is it’s in easy-to-swallow form.
Catchy, concise and filled to the brim with hooks, the likes of “These Horrid Things” pick up the pace by bolting on NWOBHM riffs while “What Lies Beyond” (album highlight alert) is full on ‘witchy’; mesmerizingly mischievous as it ushers in your fall from grace with darkened fury.
With Matt Tluchowski’s Ozzy-esque vocals seducing throughout, his role as Enchanter is assured and the rest of the band ain’t no slouches either, peeling off an endless array of ear-pleasing licks.
So, breathe in giant lungful’s of the delicious retro-smoke this particular physician prescribes…..because Dreamers and the Dead is better than anything Ghost have put out in years! 8/10
Doctor Smoke’s Dreamers and the Dead was released on 3rd September, 2021 via Ripple Music.