Dooms Children – ‘Dooms Children’

By Tom Walsh

More commonly known for his raspy vocals as Alexisonfire’s rhythm guitarist and leading from the front of Gallows’ post-Frank Carter evolution, Wade MacNeil is getting a little more experimental with his new project Dooms Children. The group’s debut self-titled LP is a deeply personal and emotional record in which MacNeil bares all on addiction, loss and grief.

It marks a relative sea change from MacNeil’s previous solo work. While Black Lungs started life as a folk punk outfit with the undeniably impressive debut ‘Send Flowers’ in 2008, MacNeil couldn’t fight back the urge of raw aggression so accustomed with his early days in Alexisonfire and latter-day Gallows. However, with Dooms Children it is a clear departure from anything he’s previously done.

Musically there’s pretty much everything you could imagine spread across the the record’s admittedly bloated almost hour-long runtime. Opener ‘Trip With Me’ contains the kind of groove akin to Fucked Up’s ‘Dose Your Dreams’ era, while there are sprinklings of country and psychedelic. Lyrically as well, it leans heavily on the country element, describing long wide open roads in the US, waking up in motels in the middle of rural Canada and self-deprecation.

MacNeil is brutally honest throughout this record as he confronts his demons. Lead single ‘Psych Hospital Blues’ talks of his battles with addiction and the chastening, tear-filled moment he had with his father when dropping him off at rehab. It is a true highlight of the record, as MacNeil describes in detail of how he felt his world collapsed around “no pyramids, no microphones”, all the protections that he’d built simply melted away. It’s a beautiful, poignant and powerful track.

His journey progresses through the psychedelic ‘Skeleton Beach’, which has the vibe of a dream sequence. It’s floaty ambience, steel guitar licks and Hammond organ paint this picture of gliding up towards the clouds and leaving the problems behind on earth.

The country feel continues through ‘Lotus Eater’ where MacNeil plays the role of the dive bar crooner. He talks of a time where “everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” in the classic state of addict delusion, before bringing himself back to the present where, on reflection, he retorts “nothing was beautiful and everything hurts”. All of this is over the backdrop of screeching, distorted guitars.

The only real criticism of Dooms Children’s debut LP is the length of it. At times some of the tracks, such as ‘Chinatown Glow’, feel like overkill and could have been better leaving on the cutting room floor. ‘Friend of the Devil’ also contains a closing two minutes which could have easily been dropped, and makes you wonder whether this would’ve been more suited to a streamlined EP.

However, when you reach tracks like ‘Heavy Hear’, a beautiful ode about the death of MacNeil’s mother and his grieving process, it makes the wait all worthwhile. And the closing section of ‘Flower Moon’ also belies an elegant approach to songwriting.

Alexisonfire and Gallows this is very much not, but Dooms Children feels like the record that MacNeil has been wanting to create for years. It’s a record that will speak to those that have experienced similar hardships and will provide some form of catharsis, which can only be a good thing.

TOM WALSH

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