Opening with the tried-and-tested simple, slightly atonal lead refrains common to doom metal, Nexus of Grief plays off some slight dissonance in the main riff against some crash and roll of the drums and rumbling, Earth-heavy bass. Rolling outwards in a thick wave, the undulating sludge soon gives way to a racier tremolo riff around the one-minute mark. With little warning, this seeping riff gives way to a gaping open wound of blastbeats and black metal shrieks, upping the tempo without forsaking the bleak atmospherics. This is dark and malevolent stuff, ladies and gentlemen – Monty-Burns-casting-shade-over-Springfield levels of malevolence. A slightly more melodic, rollicking bridge riff chugs a few chords out before a more frantic and melodic run of tremolo blasts back and forth between dirt-laden doom passages. A clean, dirge-like middle arpeggio slightly breaks up the tension, but only marginally before plummeting back below the waves in a crisp but filth-laden swamp.
Submerged does what it says on the tin, or rather the warning sign. Opening with a lofty melodic guitar line reminiscent of many recent post-black metal releases, the lofty intro floats eerily but freely above the surface, a premonition of what lurks beneath. The track itself is quite a short affair, an interlude which only slightly hints at the danger to come, lulling and toying with the listener, inviting them toward the deep…
Call to The Waves is the epic 12-minute beckoning call, beginning with a similarly bittersweet riff, slightly hazed over with background distortion. An even higher-pitched simple melody drifts atonally over the shoreline, a weirdly soothing tune that is only slightly nausea-inducing and hypnotic. The blackened shrieks, desperate thundering drums and downtrodden tremolo that follow pick up the pace as the waves rise in height, a crescendo as sickening as it is beautiful. This pandemonium of shrieks lasts long enough to screech down alongside another sickeningly simple trade-off of bends and leads. A gargantuan growl cuts through the Daylight Dies aesthetic, dragging the whole mess into bass-heavy funereal death-doom. This is some expertly crafted stuff, people, masterful in its’ conveyance of agony, frustration and forlornness. An echo-heavy melodic interlude in the middle almost lifts spirits to a semi-optimistic state, but barbed screams ensure that never happens. The latter third of the song drifts back downwards amongst forlorn riffage into a distorted mess, an impressive car crash of sickly wreckage.
‘Secured to the undertow, be carried away; call to the waves as they welcome you home’ the singer shrieks over faster and faster tremolo towards the end of the track the pace picking up feverishly, culminating in a simple but enormous solo and a gnashing outro riff that engulfs all.
The Great Awakening of Death wastes little time indulging in the acidic end of the bands’ spectrum, comparatively. Launching immediately into Entombed-style buzzsaw guitar, semi atonal tremolo and a blastbeat-laden passage that feels like traversing a thick sulfur-laden cage while on fire. Depressing as that sounds, it is so well done that it actually emanates an aura of confidence and energy that exudes powerful vibes. Crashing waves that rattle through the bones, picking the heart rate and keeping it high through the dismal passages, accelerating the breath with those inevitable and resolving returns to blast-heavy passages Haunting wailing leads almost reminiscent of early Opeth create dire wind tunnels through which crawling rhythm sections, distorted thick guitars and rasps rattle on, broken and battered. Rolling toms of the drums keep these forlorn sustained simple riffs afloat, to a point of minimalist repetition that does drag in places.
Rounding out this bleak and atmospheric haunt, Delirium Vivens begins in much the same vein as prior tracks; a sweet but slightly-off melody punctured by rumbling distorted bass and ambient effects, in this case soft rain. Those genre-tested rolls and flits with crash and ride of doom drummers provide a spacious but thick room in which to reverberate. Slight bends and echo-laden notes ring together in solemnity, until halfway through a searing blasting section cuts through, a razor-sharp wall of blackened death metal doom muck. Shrieking like a more hate-filled Agalloch vocalist, the rasps over off-time riffs towards the end, spiralling into a more classic metal palm-muted feel. As expected, a clash between thudding, chunky chords and desperate guitar refrains plays out an epic crescendo, dropping suddenly from the face of the Earth as though this entire spectacle never happened.
I acknowledge this has been a verbose interpretation of a mere five tracks, but heed this warning – this is one of the most harrowing, emotive and skilful plays on blackened death-doom you’ve heard or indeed will hear in a long time. Essential.
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