It has been a while since a new artist has made a strong impression on me right off the bat, but I guess it’s not fair to call Wade MacNeil a “new artist”. While his new psych-rock project Dooms Children is new, MacNeil is a longtime veteran of the punk scene, as the lead guitarist/co-founder of Canadian post-hardcore band AlexisonFire, and lead singer of UK hardcore punk group Gallows.
But one listen to Dooms Children‘s first single “Flower Moon”, and you’ll hear something completely different from the songwriter. Gone are the thrashing riffs and wailing vocals. While the new project still deals with heavier subject matter, from addiction to falling out of love, he channeling these darker ruminations through fuzzed-out acoustic guitars, gothic organ lines and expressive vocals. “Flower Moon”, dare I say, opens with a slow-drawling melody that brings to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd. MacNeil’s vocals have a hazy, rustic quality that melds well with the psychedelic atmosphere. The track finds MacNeil wondering if he’s made the right choices in night and feeling the loneliness of his situation (“Lying awake at night, this empty house is not a home”). The guitar solo here is pure classic-rock showmanship; melodic and epic, but without unnecessary theatricality.
“Psyche Hospital Blues” is a twangy, upbeat folk rocker detailing an experience with addiction, and its affects on loved ones (“My father cried when he dropped me off at rehab…in that instant the world felt smaller”). It’s a moody singalong, with MacNeil unifying us through a chorus of “We’ve all got the psyche hospital blues”. And there’s something perfect about the coarse, earthy vocals here – a clean, pop singer couldn’t deliver these songs with the same gravitas.
And MacNeil’s excellent guitar playing really shines on “Heavy Year”, with an intricate opening that bubbles and swirls with a psychedelic goodness. The backing harmonies add a soulfulness to the classic-sounding sonics and heartland drum fills that roll steadily throughout. And as MacNeil sings “It’s been a heavy year in retrospect. We always hurt the ones that we love best. And the ones that hurt us most, couldn’t care less” it will be hard not to connect with whatever experiences highlighted your 2020.
Based simply on these first three songs, it’s clear Dooms Children‘s debut self-titled album, due October 20th, will be one to watch out for. Get on the bandwagon now and hear these first three tracks in our Bad Ass Break-Outs Playlist: