Ahab, The Coral Tombs (Napalm 2023)

Extreme doom metal band Ahab drags you beneath the waves and shows you horrors on their latest album, The Coral Tombs.

It all began in Germany in 2004. Ahab arose. The music they create is typically categorized as funeral doom, but that does not capture it very well. I don’t dispute the description. I simply think that their music covers considerably more ground (or sea, as the case may be) than you might expect from the typical funeral doom band. Besides that, the narrative theme is specific and sweeping, especially on the new album, which is the fifth long-player from the band, marking their nineteenth year in existence. Ahab is Cornelius Althammer (drums, Daniel Droste (vocals, guitar), Christian Hector (guitar), and Stephan Wandernoth (bass).

“Prof. Arronax’ Descent Into The Vast Oceans” is a long story. It starts out shrieking, then goes suddenly dead quiet. A funeral doom pace ensues, but the music itself is more lyrical than you might expect for that genre. Enormous oppressive guitar riffs do slowly emerge, threatening to overwhelm the movement. Instead, there is a long guitar soliloquy. “Colossus Of The Liquid Graves” comes next and presents for all the world as a deep sea terror tale in sound and action. The vocal croak comes from a humungous beast at depth, and the clear singing that follows might be from a doomed soul. You start to feel an entrenchment of evil in this music, and it is a feeling that only deepens as you wind your way through the tracks that follow.

The first two songs put you through the wringer and there is still fifty minutes to go. Epic mysticism is in store for you on “Mobilis In Mobile,” and the drowning of hope is inevitable on “A Coral Tomb.” The writing might very well be on the seafloor but still there is no avoiding the magnificent conclusion voiced in “The Mælstrom.” The music is expansive, existing in a realm not often traversed by bands, no matter how heavy. Recommended.

The Coral Tombs is out now through Napalm Records. Press the links below to harvest it.

Band photo by Stefan Heilemann.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahab.bandcamp.com/album/the-coral-tombs

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AhabDoom

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/ahab

© Wayne Edwards

Ahab, The Coral Tombs (Napalm 2023)

Azken Auzi, Azken Auzi (Argonauta 2023)

Sludgy doom band Azken Auzi release their self-titled debut.

Stationed in Toulon, France, Azken Auzi is a new band formed by musicians from other metal acts. Deciding they wanted a change of pace, they veered from death metal and noise toward atmospheric doom, frequently touching on funeral doom landscapes. Their new album is a deary delight.

“Disgrace” brings notes of fear to the beginning of the set. Slow and ominous, the lead-in sets up perfectly the gruff howls of despair that follow in the vocals. This is grim stuff, and unrelenting. “Azken Auzi” is up next, and it takes the music down a notch into funeral doom territory. Over the course of the song the tempo does pick up considerably, but the sentiment does not brighten. It is a thunderclap that keeps rolling. “I Hate You” is almost pleasant in comparison. The hopelessness and sorrow saturate the musical palate of this song as well, although here there is a sense of movement, an active sort of despair, you might say. Hate, after all, is actionable.

“Rho Scorpii” offers a sort of emotional parallax because the droning rhythm can set you down the path of darkness but there is also a reassuring known-ness to it as the song progresses. This is the sort of music that could go on for twenty minutes and you would still be hanging in there with it. “K.R.L.H.” is a graveyard dirge; lovely, drowning darkness. The pace turns after a while, and the narrative seems to switch toward a campaign – a path of intention. “Home” is the anchor and the longest track of the set. It has a tentative beginning that is clearly heading toward something else – change is in the air. This song is the most exploratory, and it covers the most ground. At the very end there is a bonus track, which is an alternate version of the title song. I appreciate the dark menace of this music and the dedication of the compositions to their purpose. Recommended.

Azken Auzi is out now through Argonauta Records. Get yours at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://azkenauzi.bandcamp.com/album/azken-auzi

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/azkenauzi

Argonauta Records, https://www.argonautarecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Azken Auzi, Azken Auzi (Argonauta 2023)

Arche, Transitions (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Finland’s Arche present their first long-player, Transitions.

Arche is a two-piece funeral doom band comprised of E. Kuismin (guitar, bass, keys, vocals) and V. Raittila (drums, backing vocals). Their first recording was released in 2015, the EP Undercurrents. The earlier music is very memorable and impressive. Even so, the new album is a major step up in terms of composition and delivery. There are three songs on Transitions.

“Reverential Silence” builds anticipation with its gradual, self-assured entry. The music is not cavernous, but it is insular – like walking through a valley with steep cliffs on either side of you while the sky is open above … a dark sky. It is a beautiful lullaby to demise. Reassuringly wan in its final panels, the doom is delivered here with great elegance.

“Transition” is the shortest of the trio at six and a half minutes, and yet it carries nearly as much weight as its fellows. Quiet, almost tentative initially, the acoustic guitar that leads the way is enthralling in its sentiment. It is a virtuous intender but not necessarily a beneficent one. In other words, sometimes doing what must be done has terrible consequences.

“In A Solace Light” begins with a more familiar funeral doom framing. The massive riffs are softened a bit by their extensions, but they are not weakened. The tone is melancholy, deep and absolute. The vocals are disembodied, coming from nowhere and everywhere. Are they seeking or are they merely being? An absolutism could be applied in the cold distance, and that is perhaps where the throbbing truth lies. The dark beauty of this music is overwhelming. Recommended.

Transitions is out now through Transcending Obscurity Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick up the album in its many forms, and the merch that goes along with it.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://archefin.bandcamp.com/album/transitions-atmospheric-funeral-doom-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/archedoom

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Arche, Transitions (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Sinister Downfall, The Last Witness (Funere 2022)

Sinister Downfall adds to the funeral doom procession with The Last Witness.

Sinister Downfall is peopled entirely by Eugen Kohl. I do not come across one-man funeral doom bands very often – more commonly, singular acts are instantiations of black metal. It is the music that matters though, no matter how it is created. So far, Kohl has released two previous long-players under the Sinister Downfall banner, Eremozoic (2018) and A Dark Shining Light (2020).

There are five tracks on the new album, the shortest of which is eight and a half minutes long. That’s a good start. Of course, it is not merely the length of the track that matters, but doom and particularly funeral doom work well in the long form. “Souls Enslaved” begins with a forlorn piano heralding the inevitable crush of massive doom guitar riffs followed on the queue by equally heavy vocals. The invoked dread is palpable and sustained. It is wonderfully dark music. “Into The Cold Ground” continues the expression, opening up the piano in a more active role. You wouldn’t say that the song is a surprise, but it is a willful engagement. Side one ends on “Eyes Forever Closed,” and there is an escalation of the sentiment that peaks in the vocals, followed by a long cooldown and a crescendo for the finale.

The second half of the set is two quarter-hour pieces, “Marble Slab” and “The Last Witness.” Both of these songs could be stand-alone releases, soaked as they are in dark, hopeless beauty. I favor the former, and I have listened to it several times by itself after the album ran its course. This set is going in my library, and I will hear it again and again. I did not know about Sinister Downfall before hearing this album, but the music is now forever in my book of doom. Recommended.

The Last Witness is out now through Funere on CD and digital. Enter the realm through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sinisterdownfall.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-witness

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sinisterdownfall/

Funere, https://vk.com/funere

© Wayne Edwards

Sinister Downfall, The Last Witness (Funere 2022)

Estrangement, Disfigurementality (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Baroque funeral doom band Estrangement present their first full-length offering, Disfigurementality.

Estrangement is the creation of Australian musician JS, a multidisciplinary metal master. He incorporates baroque music with his metal premises, engaging the talents of other artists for the additional (non-metal) instruments such as double bass, violin, cello, piano, flute, and classical guitar. Add in guttural vocalizations and throat singing, and you have something new under the sun. This musical project has been active since 2010, releasing a demo and a split along the way. Disfigurementality is the first long-player by Estrangement.

“Destitution Stench” brings melancholy strings and a sorrowful, warning voice. It seems introductory at first, but really I think the song is better described as an invocation. “Detritivore” is the first track that gives you a clear view of what to expect for the rest of the album. Told at a funeral doom pace, the integration of grating, tortured vocals with strings, massive guitar riffs, percussion, and a flute is off in a direction you have never heard before, unless you have heard Estrangement.

There are slower, melodic movements throughout the set, like “Belong Beneath,” that have a soothing effect. Still, while you are hearing them, listening, you know that any moment the music will take a darker turn. Massive songs like “Womb of Worlds” and, especially, “Doppelganger,” are extensive journeys with rich, divergent constructions living together in both turmoil and harmony. I can hear this record as a funeral doom album, and I can also hear it as death metal. It is best just to admit that it isn’t any one thing, and take the trip for all it is worth. Recommended.

Disfigurementality is out on Friday, November 25th through Aesthetic Death. Find out more at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://estrangement.bandcamp.com/album/disfigurementality

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/estrangementdoom/

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Estrangement, Disfigurementality (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Griefbringer, The Horrible Wilting (Church of Crow 2022)

Italian doom veterans combine to form Griefbringer and unleash The Horrible Wilting.

Luca Frazzoni (guitars, vocals), Andrea Zanetti (bass, vocals), and Dario Casabona (drums) have worked in the Italian heavy music scene for some time, and now they have come together to create a new band, Griefbringer. The title suits the music, that’s for sure. What you will hear on this record is on the funeral doom side of doom – it is music with a steady grinding momentum told at an imperturbable pace.

There are eight tracks on the new album. The slumbering beast is wakened with “Blind Harbinger.” The riff and melody give off a feeling of determined execution. That is, you get the impression that something terrible is being related that cannot be refuted and, further, cannot be stopped either. You can see it coming but you cannot get out of the way. “Disfigurement” is more actively threatening in the vocals in a kind of looking-you-in-the-eyes sort of way. You can see the weapon and you can feel what it will do to you. The unforgiving guitar and tromping rhythm reinforce the menace. In “A Warlock,” the vibrations are more mystical, while “Ghosts of the Desert” duets the vocals in a way that deepens the dark effect, taking an unexpected turn.

Side two holds more horrors. “Grimace of Madness” cranks up the tempo to its most accelerated so far, sending our imagination on a journey. The title track is a sinister rumination, like a spoken black mantra. “Obeying the Owl” is the longest track, and it is a contender for my favorite of the set with its melodious singing walking through the ravaged lands the guitars describe. Exceptional. The final story is “The Creeper,” a well-placed doom standard setup turned around by the vocals that sound at times like the ravings of a deranged monk. It is a nuanced finish. Recommended.

The Horrible Wilting is out on Friday, November 18th through Church of Crow Records. Look to Bandcamp for the quick pick-up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://griefbringer.bandcamp.com/album/the-horrible-wilting

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/bringerofgrief

Church of Crow Records, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083225595772

© Wayne Edwards

Griefbringer, The Horrible Wilting (Church of Crow 2022)

Worm, Bluenothing (20 Buck Spin 2022)

Florida swamp doom band Worm cast off into the unknown with Bluenothing.

One year after the massive and tectonically heavy Foreverglade, Worm is back with a mightily impressive EP, Bluenothing. Off now in a different direction, Phantom Slaughter (vocals, guitar, bass, and synth) and Wroth Septentrion (guitar) are joined by session musicians to complete the presentation: Nihilistic Manifesto (guitar, “Shadowside Kingdom”), Necreon (bass, “Shadowside Kingdom”), L. Dusk (drums, “Bluenothing” and “Centuries Of Ooze II”), and Charlie Koryn (drums, “Shadowside Kingdom”).

The first song is the title track, “Bluenothing,” and it starts out appropriately sorrowfully. This is the kind of music you could play after a wake. In addition to the expected granite cliffs of rhythm guitar and the proportionately dreary vocals, the elegant lead guitar provides beautiful interludes through the saturating darkness. The song is incredible, and if you hear only it from the record you have benefitted to an almost gratuitous level. I don’t want to over-hype it, but this is one of the best tracks I have heard this year.

“Centuries of Ooze II” leads with an organ as the advance troupe heralding ocean-deep guitars. A taste of eastern mysticism tinges the composition as the glacial flood of incalculable loss overtakes you in the listening. “Invoking the Dragonmoon” is a short transition piece leading to “Shadowside Kingdom.” The final track is a curiosity that could be the soundtrack to a scene in a dark fantasy movie where a magician is conjuring something you can tell will be bad for everyone involved. The chanting backs up the sentiment, and the wan guitar guarantees a dark future that arrives promptly with black metal vileness. These four songs are layered artifacts, shimmering themselves and portending an inevitable continuation. Recommended.

Bluenothing is out on Friday, October 28th through 20 Buck Spin. Have a look through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/bluenothing

Worm Bandcamp, https://wormgloom.bandcamp.com/merch

FFMB review of Foreverglade, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2021/10/20/worm-foreverglade-20-buck-spin-2021/

20 Buck Spin Records, https://www.20buckspin.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Worm, Bluenothing (20 Buck Spin 2022)

Dead Void, Volatile Forms (Dark Descent 2022)

Danish doom band Dead Void bring their debut album to the surface, Volatile Forms.

Dead Void is a band of mystery. There is virtually nothing about the personnel in the press materials. The band appears to be a trio – guitar, bass, drums – who started off at some indeterminate time in the past. The Metal Archives does list three demos from them having been released in 2017, 2018, and 2021, respectively. And now we have the new one, a full-length album that is probably the band’s long-player debut. Let’s give it a blind listen.

There are five thunderous tracks on the new album. “Atrophy” takes off with a slow, ominous strum, matched in time by bass and percussion. It is a dark, heavy doom that turns into funeral doom, deepened by treacherous vocals. The song is a warning of an eventual, slow-moving catastrophe. The strum does pick up and the music turns fast and fierce, almost avant-garde at times. Then it winds down and fades out. Contrariwise, “The Entrails of Chaos” starts like a hail of missiles with savage intensity. The doom comes in later, and a kind of groove walks in and out.

“Sadistic Mind” plays like slowed-down Black Sabbath. Absolutely crushing. Death metal tags in toward the middle then bows out. Similarly, “The Reptilian Drive” has a familiar overall arc, but no guiderails at all. Again, the groove in the middle is killer, and it offers a look you almost never get in this manner of music. The final track is “Perpetually Circling the Void.” How’s that for a title? Oh, this eleven-minute opus delivers on its titular promise, have no fear.

This album is excellent. I am a doom fan, and so I appreciate how well those elements are executed in the music. The additional layers of death and groove are what raises the compositions to the next level. Recommended.

Volatile Forms hits the streets through Dark Descent Records on September 15th in CD form, with vinyl provided by Me Saco Un Ojo.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://deadvoid.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TheDeadVoid/

Dark Descent Records, https://www.darkdescentrecords.com/shop/product/dead-void-volatile-forms-cd/

Me Saco Un Ojo Records, https://www.mesacounojo.com/shop/dead-void-volatile-forms-lp/

© Wayne Edwards

Dead Void, Volatile Forms (Dark Descent 2022)

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Morbid Evils unleash a quadrangle of doom on their third long-player, Supernaturals.

Doom trio Morbid Evils began in Finland in 2014, and released their first full-length album the very next year, In Hate with the Burning World. Next there was a split and a live album, record number two hit the streets in 2017, Deceases. After this massive flurry of recorded activity, the studio went quiet for a lustrum. The silence is now broken with what might be the band’s most accomplished work to date, Supernaturals. The musicians are Keijo Niinimaa (vocals, guitars, bass), Jarno Virkki (drums), and Tuomas Varila (guitar).

There are four huge tracks on the new album, averaging about ten minutes each. First up: “Fearless.” The song begins with loud, low drones, distortion, and funeral doom riffs. The vocals are titanic howls, and a guitar line follows along with them for added emphasis. Three minutes in, the pace snaps to a heavy groove and the vocals clarify slightly. A dangerous heaviness continues to abide. These movements trade off to the finish. With “Anxious,” there is a similar set-up, but it is not as dreary. Still brutally heavy, the beast has lifted its head and now sways it like a pained metronome. The slowest moments are deeply haunting; the lead work, revelatory.

“Tormented” opens side two. At less than nine minutes, it is the shortest song in the set, and it has a notably different vitality compared to the ones that have come before. More aggressively hopeless, the lead guitar line breaks into chaos alongside the vocals at midway, then the song resets for the long slope toward the finish. The final song is “Supernatural,” and it is oppressively bleak. With a segment of good death metal chops followed by dark tonal passages and a resolution in devolved hopelessness, this track is the one where the deal is sealed. Supernaturals is an exceptional doom album that will live in my queue for the foreseeable future. Recommended.

Supernaturals is out on August 19th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Look to Bandcamp or the label’s website for the usual wide variety of versions and merch – Transcending Obscurity really is one of the absolute best record labels for collectors in terms of the extensive variety of products they offer.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://morbidevilsband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MorbidEvils

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Mournful Congregation, The Exuviae Of Gods – Part I (20 Buck Spin 2022)

On the cusp of thirty years in, Mournful Congregation begin their two-part EP series with The Exuviae Of Gods – Part I.

Australian doom band Mournful Congregation is a pillar of the funeral doom mausoleum. From the very beginning with the Weeping demo in 1994, they have set their own boundaries. A second demo appeared the very next year then, a few years on, Tears From A Grieving Heart, their first full-length album. Since then, there has been a steady, well-paced flow of much-needed doom. The band is peopled by Damon Good (vocals and guitar), Justin Hartwig (guitar), Ben Newsome (bass), Ben Petch (guitar), and Tim Call (drums).

Exuviae Of Gods will be released in two parts, the second appearing later this year. Part I contains three long tracks starting with “Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time.” An organ fades in playing sinister tones leading in short order to a confrontation with a massive wall of guitar riffs. The vocals that ensue have a sound of distance in them, gruff and croaking. Slow and deliberate. The guitar solo enters in its own time and, when it does, it is genuinely enthralling.

“The Exuviae Of Gods” is a deeply moving instrumental piece soaked in sorrow. At merely seven minutes long, it is sandwiched between two behemoths. The vocalizations in “An Epic Dream Of Desire” are spoken word, offering unmuddled direction in the narrative. Halfway through, a lead guitar embarks on a deeply emotive dirge of mystical wonder. Beyond is the eventuality of existence and nonexistence. The space that Mournful Congregation inhabits in the land of funeral doom music is most compelling. Recommended.

The Exuviae Of Gods – Part I is out on Friday, May 27th through 20 Buck Spin digitally and on CD, with vinyl to follow a bit later on. Osmose Productions is handling the album outside of North America.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://mournfulcongregation.bandcamp.com/album/the-exuviae-of-gods-part-i

Website, https://www.mournfulcongregation.com

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/mournfulcongregation

20 Buck Spin, https://www.20buckspin.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Mournful Congregation, The Exuviae Of Gods – Part I (20 Buck Spin 2022)