Written by: Lord Hsrah
Imagine a heavy/power metal band formed by Piet Sielck (Iron Savior) and Michael Ehre (Gamma Ray, Primal Fear)--two of the German power metal scene's most seasoned, experienced and well known musicians, coming together to create their own brand of some of the most scintillating fusion of Teutonic heavy metal and Euro power metal. Something, in other words, over which millions of power metal fans all over the globe would jizz themselves. If you're a power metal fan, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Now imagine the same, but for two colossal doom forces merging together as one to create some of the most iciest low frequencies, out of an already frigid country like Finland, and you get the funeral doom behemoth that is Convocation. It's a grim ride of ruin, and of sorrow, into their sophomore album, Ashes Coalesce, and I'm going to show you around. Come, take my hand, and let us walk.
Formed just in 2018 by Lauri Laaksonen (Desolate Shrine) and Marko Neuman (Dark Buddha Rising), the duo started their own factory of grief-christened Convocation, churning out some sick low and slow tunes that culminated in their debut album Scars Across, which was released the same year. A hard-hitting record, Scars Across is now followed by Ashes Coalesce, which certainly is a couple of notches above its predecessor. Drawing heavily on funeral doom greats like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and their own compatriots Skepticism, composer and multi-instrumentalist Lauri, credited on the record as 'LL,' has laid down some of the most superb compositions on this record. Vocalist Neuman, credited 'MN', can be dubbed to be on the same level and of the same calibre as LL, as his dry, soul wrenching gutturals seem so much like those of the aforementioned prominent doom overlords. It is a brilliant envoy of some solid musicianship as both LL and MN sync so well.
Ashes Coalesce is a 4-track album running for just a little over 45-minutes, and boy, does it wreak havoc on the listener! The album opens with an instant impact and intense song "Martyrise" that starts slow and out of nowhere hits like a bag of bricks straight to the head as the first riff blares out of the sound system. The track's admittedly faster tempo and the sheer roughness add a lot to the overall intensity and the feel of the album. MN's gnarly vocals are like a cherry on the top, and as the song progresses, the emotions that it invokes just start piling on, and at their pinnacle is the great release as things slow down and the sections change. Followed by this riff monster is my favorite off this album, "The Absence of Grief." Now I found this title pretty ironic because all this track does is induce grief. It is a solid amalgamation of haunting atmospheres, bone chilling melodies and a riff backbone that holds as well as carries the whole song so damn well! It is well structured, extremely well composed and sets the mood for the rest of the songs.
The whole album is rife with sorrow, reeks of gloom, is leaden with misery, and remains bleak as if hit by a famine. The perfect encapsulation of what funeral doom really entails. It is, in true sense, the optimal embodiment of doom. LL's agonizing guitars just wail away with every riff he chugs out and cries with every note he plays. The bleak atmospheres added by the keys, an eerie tone to the music, the harsh sound of the guitars and the beautifully somber music just send chills down my spine. Each song is like an eulogy, given by four different people at the funeral-like grim occasion that this album is. Each eulogy tells of different things, different emotions, and every one of them carries the same sentiment of pain and misery.
The one minor thing for me personally would be that, in the midst of all that's going on in the album, there's these certain section changes and key changes that disturb the flow and break the link. There'll be this really amazing part of a song you'll be vibing with, then comes that one section that puts off the mood, a bit like a third wheel. But to be very frank, this still does not matter all that much, because when the music is so good, the little things like these can be easily neglected.
All in all, Ashes Coalesce is a solidly crafted, morbid album that takes you on a slow and heavy trip to the world of dark and grimace. LL and MN hit gold with this one for sure. Elite stuff!
Convocation - Ashes Coalesce was released July 3rd, 2020 fromSentient Ruin Laboratories, Everlasting Spew Records (EU), and Dawnbreed Records (cassette)
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!