Qaalm, Resilience & Despair (Hypaethral Records 2022)

Los Angeles doom band Qaalm present their debut full-length album, Resilience & Despair.

Qaalm was formed in 2017 and gelled over the ensuing years. The new album brings together two songs released as singles in the past couple of years along with new music not published before. The musical style is along the line of funeral doom, with expansions and explorations that combine to form a more animated whole. The band is Pete Majors (vocals), Henry Derek Elis (guitar), Brock Elmore (guitar), David Huet (bass), and Dave Ferrara (drums); cello performance by Kakophonix.

There are four long tracks on the album. Each demonstrates incredible depth and spatial awareness, and each is very different. “Reflections Doubt” constructs a beautiful, melancholy soundscape. The croaking vocals at three and a half minutes are a shock, and they take on a distinct life as Pete Majors continues to evolve his vocalizations throughout the song. Melodic singing combines and extends the narrative ideas, and the guitars and rhythm grow larger and become fiercer. Ebb and flow follows, casting you adrift and periodically rippling your serenity.

“Existence Asunder” begins on the wind. A distant menace makes itself known through the cavernous environment. The darkness is dense and beautiful in the classically formed funeral doom passages. In “Cosmic Descent,” the initial tones land more hopefully, while clearly breathing melancholy. The guitars are an active force, and belief in a possible positive outcome fades as the misty cloak thickens toward the inevitable end.

“Lurking Death” is the final composition on the album. Clear vocalizations stand first, signaling demise. The path is replete with sadness and splendor, recollections and horrors. The dark beauty of the music on this album is overwhelming at times, and fans of funeral doom and melodic doom will feel at home here. Recommended.

Resilience & Despair is out on Friday, April 15th through Hypaethral Records digitally and on vinyl. Trepanation Recordings will have CD and cassette editions.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://listen.hypaethralrecords.com/album/resilience-despair

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

Hypaethral Records, https://hypaethralrecords.com/

Trepanation Recordings, https://trepanationrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/resilience-despair

© Wayne Edwards.

Qaalm, Resilience & Despair (Hypaethral Records 2022)

Mordom, Cry of The Dying World (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Doom duo Mordom play for the hopeless and the dead on their new album Cry of The Dying World.

Max Hoffman and Nathan Gonzalez got together a couple years ago to lay down music outside of the band Cessation, calling the project Mordom. They released their first album in 2020, Eternal Solitude – it contains two long tracks, each with multiple movements. The new album has a similar set-up with three long pieces and a surprising fourth.

I was expecting to hear funeral doom given the work of Cessation, and the opening track, “Narcosis,” fulfills that promise at the gate. Slow, somber, heavy music that is quiet at first. The big riff and grating vocals drop to shake the world but the pace does not quicken. About four minutes in there is an explosion, a sort of seizure where the instruments and vocals erupt in a massive thrashing. Then back to the funeral. There are more explosions, an ambient section, and an even creepier element right at the end. Solid crushing doom with landmines and flashbacks.

“Betrayed” is a little more on the traditional funeral doom side in that it begins with the louder heavy. The pace quickens and there is a beautiful acoustic movement in the middle that leads to a melancholy guitar before bringing back the heavy. “Fire” is the shortest song on the album at only five and a half minutes. It is also a ballad with clean, gentle vocals and acoustic guitar. I did not see that one coming. It is an interesting choice and it fits right in with rest of the music in the set.

The final track is “The Mausoleum.” This epic composition runs nearly eighteen minutes and I could have listened longer. The combination of unusual percussion (for funeral doom), acoustic passages, ambient moments, and shrieking black metal interludes all housed in the firmament of the heaviest doom metal speaks to my musical predilections. This is a great album and I am looking forward to more from Mordom. Recommended.

Cry of The Dying World is out now through Transylvanian Recording. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/mordom-cry-of-the-dying-world

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

Mordom, Cry of The Dying World (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Florida gloom band Worm continues further down the path of deep dark doom on their third album, Foreverglade.

Formed around 2014, Worm’s early music was more oriented toward a straight-forward black metal tint. As they moved along, the doom emerged and quickly intensified into a lead-heavy oppression. Evocation of the Black Marsh came out in 2017, followed two years later by Gloomlord. The driving force behind Worm is an entity known as Phantom Slaughter whose work is enhanced on the new album by Nihilistic Manifesto, L. Dusk, and Equimanthorn. I wonder if those are their real names.

Foreverglade opens with the title track, sure in its stance and determined in its eeriness. It is a creeping combination of funereal guitar riffs, muffled death metal vocals, and ethereal, almost ritualistic sounds. On “Murk Above The Dark Moor” the composition has moments that are choir-like in their dirge and reverence, positioned against passages slightly paced up and massive in their density. And then, unexpectedly, there is a lead guitar break that is transportive. Side one closes with “Cloaked In Nightwinds,” the longest track on the album. It is a churning, clompy excavation of darkness.

“Empire Of The Necromancers” has an active beginning volley that is positively rapid compared to the tracks that came before. Excellent lead work early on in the song is a memorable highlight, as are the lyrical keys. “Subaqueous Funeral” is a single-length dark beauty with a pulse and flow that is engaging and mesmerizing in the guitar. “Centuries Of Ooze” brings the curtain down on the set, returning to the solemnness of the opening but even more mysteriously. I am a funeral doom fan and this music could fit in that category for its sheer heaviness, but it is more active than the typical strain and so creates its own description and enigma. Recommended.

Foreverglade is available on Friday, October 22nd through 20 Buck Spin. Ordering information can be found below at the label’s website and Bandcamp for the digital, CD, and cassette versions. There is a vinyl edition that is due January 28th, coming out later because of the well-known worldwide vinyl backlog.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wormgloom.bandcamp.com

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

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)

The Slow Death, Siege (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian atmospheric doom band The Slow Death return with their mournful fourth album, Siege.

The first album from The Slow Death was their self-titled entry in 2008, followed four years later by the aptly titled II. 2015 brought the charmed album Ark, and now Siege. They write and perform thoughtful, deliberate doom, typically in long form. The band is Mandy Andresen (vocals, keys), Stuart Prickett (guitar, keys), Yonn McLaughlin (drums), Dan Garcia (bass), and Gamaliel (vocals).

I would refer to this music as Funeral Doom, although many would find the Atmospheric Doom label more accurate, or perhaps simply more palatable. Given the subjects of the songs, the pace, and the haunting constructions, I am standing by my FD assessment.

There are four tracks on this album, two that are about twenty minutes long with the other two a bit more than half that. The first song is one of the long ones, “Tyranny.” The opening notes have a feeling of transition to them, like something has been happening for a while but we are just now becoming fully aware of it. The music is beautiful and melancholy. The first heavy guitar drop is fairly early in, about a minute and a half, and it raises the seriousness of the established emotion. There is a tempo change and then the first voice is heard, a lovely, comforting vocal and, later, a gruff one, both of which return. The narrative is fairly linear and the music moves with the story toward the solemn conclusion.

“Famine” follows, a shorter work running only about thirteen minutes. Given the title, you are not going in with hopes for a sunny afternoon. Indeed, the story is grim even as the music is compelling an uplifting – at first. The heavy, trouncing guitars and rhythm press in suddenly, conveying catastrophe and doom. Toward the end the inevitability, the fate, becomes clear, and the song ends dramatically.

“Pestilence” is Funeral Doom at the beginning the way I usually think of it: slow, dead slow; utterly hopeless. This track is the other long piece, and certainly it goes through a range of expressions and movements. The beginning passage is the one that stayed with me longest. The final song is “Ascent of the Flames” and it hit me as a sort of cool down – an opportunity to reflect on what has come before and a memorial wrap-up.

I am a fan of Funeral Doom and this sort of music has long appealed to me. As a result, I am always on the lookout for another band I can rely on to set the kind of tone I want to hear. The Slow Death has become one of my regulars and this new album is among their best. Recommended.

Siege is out from Transcending Obscurity Records on Friday, August 27th. Investigate all the possible variations in presentation at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://theslowdeathband.bandcamp.com/album/siege-atmospheric-death-doom-metal

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

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

The Slow Death, Siege (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Towards Atlantis Lights, When The Ashes Devoured The Sun (Melancholic Realm Productions 2021)

The musicians in Towards Atlantis Lights are Ivan Zara (guitar), Kostas Panagiotou (vocals, keys), Riccardo Veronese (bass), and Ivano Olivieri (drums). Their music is often described as funeral doom, and they label it this way: Arcane Doom Metal. The band’s first album, Dust of Aeons, was released in 2018 by Transcending Obscurity. This follow-up album is both a continuation and expansion of the ideas and sound from their inaugural record, this new one being more active and aggressive.

There are six tracks on the album including a fairly short intro piece, “Alpha & Omega,” that wanders the listener in. The narrative themes concern civilizations in the distant past, and that is an excellent framework for the music of the band. “The Minoan Tragedy” is the first full song, and it is a fifteen-minute heavy doom rumination with mostly clean vocals punctuated by coarse growls and rapid guitar cataracts, most memorable near the end.

“The Forgotten Tribes” is even eerie and heavier – it is my personal favorite for the way the vocals and guitars work together. “The Bull and the Serpent” starts off at a high-tempo sprint while “Mad Prophetess” soaks you with heaviness up front before lashing out in sudden bursts. “Pelasgian Tales” features ethereal guitars and voiceover to tell the tale.

If you liked the first album, this one will appeal to you as well. It is full-throated doom that surrounds you completely and takes you away. Recommended.

When the Ashes Devoured the Sun has a street date of Friday, July 16th. You can pick up the digital or CD through Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://pantheistuk.bandcamp.com/album/when-the-ashes-devoured-the-sun

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

Towards Atlantis Lights, When The Ashes Devoured The Sun (Melancholic Realm Productions 2021)

Funeral Chasm, Omniversal Existence (Aesthetic Death 2021)

The first full-length album from Danish Funeral Doom duo Funeral Chasm is a rueful contemplation.

Funeral Chasm is Morten Lund and Danny Woe. The two have known each other for many years but this new band was created only last year. Omniversal Existence follows an EP from 2020, I, and lays the groundwork for future self-reflective excavations. Unlike most bands in this subgenre of doom, Funeral Chasm finds its lyrical content in contemporary questions and personal issues rather than having a preponderant emphasis on death.

There are eight tracks on the debut album, averaging in the six minute range. Each song is inspired by, or discovered through, Psilocybe cubensis, or a closely related cousin. Danny Woe describes it this way, discussing the way he deals with the symptoms of chronic insomnia…

“When those emotions are peaking, I have learned that the most effective way to break that thought loop is to visit my forest cabin with a friend and eat some magic mushrooms, which help me from spiralling further down into the abyss. I have tried to describe these monumental trips in every song, and what I’ve learned through them. Sometimes you just get a nice relaxing visit into another dimension, but other times you can experience deeper knowledge about yourself (often referred to as a ‘bad trip’ or ‘ego-death’), and that is the moment where you listen and get the opportunity to evolve.”

This makes sense when you listen to the album because it is so immersive. Consider the first song “Embellishment Of Inception.” There is a clear progression through a journey – a trip – which has many stages. The slow, dire music accompanied by both clean and coarse vocals can be experienced as revelatory. There are spacey moments and frightening ones. “The Truth That Nevers Was” is like a dark, forbidding tale of excruciating suffering that is elevated toward the end, rising out of complete hopelessness. Then the very next track, “Mesmerising Clarity,” has a lighter touch while still being dramatic. There is nuance and fully-formed, complex ideas at every turn.

In the land of Funeral Doom, Funeral Chasm has created a unique place that clearly belongs while it simultaneously stands apart. Recommended.

Omniversal Existence is out on Friday, July 2nd through Aesthetic Death.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://funeralchasm.bandcamp.com/album/omniversal-existence

Facebook, https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician/Funeral-Chasm-103662204549338/

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

Funeral Chasm, Omniversal Existence (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Intricate Funeral Doom laced with Death Metal is what you can expect from the new Suffer Yourself album, Rip Tide.

Suffer Yourself began in Poland as a one-man operation by Stanislav Govorukha (guitars and vocals). Over the years the roster has expanded and the new album includes contributions by Lars Abrahamsson (guitars), Kateryna Osmuk (drums), and Johan Selleskog (bass). Rip Tide is the third set from the band, following Ectoplasm (2016) and Inner Sanctum (2014).

The music is Funeral Doom, a category most glum. Suffer Yourself takes an expansive perspective on the genre and is not satisfied with ambient morosity. Instead, each song either has many movements that create a variegated aural landscape or has a second (and third) persistent intricacy that elevates the composition.

There are three tracks on Ripe Tide, starting with “Spit In The Chasm,” a twenty minute suite. It is here you find the full spectrum of the band on display, including soaking Funeral Doom, eerily floating vocals and calls, sudden burst of speed and diversions into torrid Death and Black Metal territory. It is a complex affair that unfolds like a darkly absorbing drama laid bare before you.

Next is “Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)” which is quiet and somber  and features a beautiful, mournful cello in its first movement. Before the three minute mark, the music changes from sad to threatening with guitars issuing an obvious warning. In the final third of the song, there has an oddly upsetting spoken word passage joined by the cello and other discordant instruments and effects.

The closer is a short ambient drone piece, “Submerging,” which is more of an exhortation regarding things to come than it is a wind-down. Taken together these three pieces coalesce into an unforgettable cortège moving toward oblivion. Recommended.

Rip Tide will be released on Friday, June 25th by Aesthetic Death on CD, vinyl, and digital. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

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

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

Aesthetic Death Bandcamp, https://aestheticdeath.bandcamp.com/

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Seismic, Seismic review (2020)

The first album from Philly instrumental doom band Seismic is an all-encompassing heavy crush.

Anthony Mariano (guitars), Ken Miller (bass), and Mike Lang (drums) came together as a trio in 2018. The quick take is that they play instrumental Doom Metal, but it is not really as homogenous as that. The band’s self-titled debut plainly demonstrates the musicians’ broad palette. In some ways, instrumental music is more compositionally freeing because of the absence of the vocals. It is true you lose the blatant narrative organ, but you also dispense with the need to create music that works with that element.

The album is three songs: 6½, 7½ , and 11½ minutes running. “The Colour Out Of Space” is a minor cacophony for a few seconds before the heavily distorted vibrating strings turn up the power and the feedback squeals open your eyes. The massive doom thrum is the billboard you drive by until the lead work drops in and percussion solidifies the form. You are halfway through by the time the speedy chop rolls up. Riding the high waves of the pushing riffs is nimble electric guitar melody. “Haunter In The Dark” has a more straightforward front end – an ominous percussion movement that is hesitant and also forewarning. It sounds like something terrifying is about to happen, but you have to hang around to hear it.

The longest piece is last, “At The Mountains Of Madness.” Lovecraft is a doom go-to, and they bleed the eerie vibe for all it is worth. Over the course of the song, the haunting seeps in and cannot be shaken out. The atmosphere swells in your lungs, roiling and determined, and clings like sticky smoke. But then you don’t want to let it go, anyway. This is more than an excellent start, this first album from Seismic, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next in the coming months. Recommended.

Bandcamp is the quick and easy place to buy the download. You can also preorder a vinyl version there which will be out in January.

Links.

Website, http://www.seismicdoom.com

Bandcamp, https://seismicdoom.bandcamp.com

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

Seismic, Seismic review (2020)

Katla, Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur review (Prophecy Productions 2020)

The new album from Katla is Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur, and it lives up to the promise of the band’s namesake.

In their follow-up to the 2017 album Móðurástin, Iceland’s Katla continues the well-established sound of the former and extends their musical scope like a growing network of fumaroles. While that first album pushed you down with a glacial weight, the new one is darker, even heavier.

The band is Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason interacting together in a musical partnership that brings the boiling black blood of the earth to the surface. The music is in the Doom universe, nearing Funeral Doom sometimes with many ambient passages. There are also more active guitar solos than you would typically find in Doom albums, a key feature that sets this music apart.

The album’s title Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur translates to All This Damned Darkness, according to the press release, and you feel that right away. “Ást orðum ofar” opens the album with a menacing soundscape that could be a soundtrack for a particularly terrifying scene in an Ari Aster film where the violence and horror happen in slow motion and the voices of the constituents are silent while this music plays on. “Villuljos” is next and presents that first strong example of guitar solos I admire so much in this music. Beyond that, the composition of the piece is unusual in its pace changing and surprising turns.

The vocals are engaging, sometimes presented in harmony, and occasionally bursting forth. As I don’t speak the language, I hear the voices entirely as another instrument and therefore the tone and emotion are the primary impressions I receive from them when listening. In “Salarsvefn” there are strong Death Metal presentations, and in other songs, like “Hvitamyrkur,” you hear a beautiful melancholy guitar. Throughout the feeling is mystical and dark, but within the music is deliciously variegated. The title track is twelve minutes of solemn, dire music that sets up the fourteen minute closer, “Svartnaetti.” There is so much here to explore and experience that you want to hear it undistracted so you do not miss anything. Katla’s new album is a rich, dark discovery. Recommended.

Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur will see its full release this Friday, November 13th from Prophecy Productions and available through Bandcamp. There is also a deluxe version (Luxus) that has additional music. You can order physical copies through the Big Cartel link below.

Links.

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

Big Cartel store, https://katlaband.bigcartel.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/katla.band

Label, https://us.prophecy.de/artists/katla/

Katla, Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur review (Prophecy Productions 2020)

Aphonic Threnody, The Great Hatred review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

Abandon all hope and embrace the infinite with the new album from Aphonic Threnody.

The band is Juan Escobar C. and Riccardo Veronese, and they have released three full-length albums (counting the new one – and four if you count First Funeral) along with several splits since 2013. The music is full fathom five Funeral Doom. Consider the name of the band – “aphonic” means not able to make sound (or only a whisper) and “threnody” is a song for the dead. In the music of Aphonic Threnody, there is a dirge supported by steady vocalizations, sometimes gruff, sometimes quietly melodic, sometimes gently spoken. The non-vocal parts shift from dramatic to stalwart, always conveying an inevitability.

Every song has a different depth of feeling and  perspective. The guitar in “The Great Hatred” is filled with indescribable sorrow that can only be understood in the listening, and the strings just after are a retelling in soaking sadness. The coarse vocals in “Drowning” are filled with frightening menace even as the piano is reassuring (although deterministic). “Locura,” which opens the album, is sheer hopelessness while the closing song, “The Fall,” has a more calculated thread of demise with uplifting moments that are nevertheless firmly set in the incontrovertible certainty of doom.

The compositions are carefully and deeply layered to create an immersive experience. The atmosphere is a preternatural inescapability and if the music does not provide comfort for the terminal subjects in their waning moments it does offer surety that the path is unalterable and that, in the absence of acceptance, there is only suffering. This album is going to be high on my 2020 Funeral Doom list. Recommended.

The Great Hatred is out now from Transcending Obscurity and through Bandcamp. Great bundles are available from the always-reliable Transcending Obscurity. Links below.

Links.

Band Bandcamp, https://aphonicthrenodydoom.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/aphonic.threnody.5

Band YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/AphonicThrenody

TO website, https://tometal.com/

TO Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

TO US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Aphonic Threnody, The Great Hatred review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)