Swelling strange drones introduce the CD, soon to augmented by cymbal work that leads to the emotionally charged loose guitar work of the opener “Enlightenment”. Slow (but not doom slow) layered riffing cruises over a thick bottom end and the nice clean vocals of Nick Wolverine, which morph into a semi growl as the singing gains momentum and stay there for most of the album. The bands sonic intent is clear from hereon : a slow to mid-paced bass heavy attack of depressing pounding metal that is not classic doom, or Neurosis sludge but but borrows occasionally from both (especially the growl’s relation to the latter). By the time the first track ends you realize seven minutes have passed seamlessly, and here lies the band’s main strength.They make epic long tracks of pulverizing doomy rock/metal that somehow manage to be interesting and heartfelt. “Abyss” ups the intensity, utilizing the similar modus operandi, and is a lesson in making long and morose metal seem musically inspiring. One thing does reveal itself as the album progresses, and that is the band’s ingenious use drones and feedback (with what appears to be occasional keyboard augmentation) which are almost ever present. They add greatly to the over all atmosphere of despair and tragedy. The tribal looseness of the drums as on “Symmetry” (and scattered throughout the body of the CD) nicely contrasts with straightforward barrage of the song’s center.
The band carves out a mandate for effective doom/sludge and post-metal : do not plod (make it memorable), do not be repetitively boring (focus on morphing song structures), do not whine (yet convey despair) and refrain from technical or aggressive overkill. A song like “Phenomena”, with its crushing back bone and eerie layers, reaches that dark side of the mind that most music of this type strives for, and effortlessly keeps its hold on your heart and mind for a soaring eleven minutes. The touching nature of some of the riffing does nothing to reduce the heaviness of the band’s arsenal (which approaches death metal of the nasty swedish kind in a few sections). The vocal has a very nice thick clean voice too, which he uses very sparingly and adds a touch of class (track five and the aforementioned opener). The few clean sections do sometimes sound like Down with braincells and talent, while the heavier more scarring moments reference Mindrot (always a plus in my book). The last untitled track is easily the most transcedental of the lot and needs your undivided attention in a darkened room.
This was the most enjoyable and listenable doom oriented metal offering of an hour plus that I have sat through in long while. But what I am really thankful for is the fact that the musicians sound like doom laden metalheads who are maturing and embracing textures, instead of a bunch of hippies with distortion pedals (ala 90 % of the post metal crowd). Amen for that.