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.
Demonstrating adherence to a vague moral code, this particular villager will only review a split release if there's a fair balance between the parties involved. If a split is inherently weighted in an obvious fashion, it's simply not worth touting around a recommendation of the package as a whole. This is all to say that this (fairly mysterious) 2-track from Alberta's Tekarra and Mexico's Malamadre fits the bill quite well, thankyouverymuch. Both tracks here hold up, with graceful ease, its respective end of the bargain, and thus, a successful split is born. At risk of showing all my card, this fine little effort is a slow and exceedingly worthwhile burn.
Tekarra starts things off with the massive Barbaric Tools, a simultaneously deathy and droning slab of feedback-ridden amp worship. As one might expect, this living mountain of a track clocks in at over ten minutes--a slow burn, but ruthlessly effective in it's delivery. Over the course, Tekarra unleashes anticipatory waves of distortion-heavy (and indeed centric) riffage. Supplication before the the amplifier is the name of the game, and if you're new to drone, Tekarra invites you in with a warm tone and welcome arms.
Some quirky soloing and extended bouts of hypnotically intense feedback round out the guitar's delivery, lending the track a sense of character that all-too-oft goes amidst in the genre's more lackluster efforts. It's unique identity is only strengthened by the addition of crushingly heavy vocals, absolutely massive in stature. While everything remains audible, the production does lean towards the reedy side of the spectrum. In some sense, this gets the track a uniquely antiqued feel that, frankly, I've come to greatly enjoy over repeat rotations. For that gut-wrenching punch we've come to anticipate from modern doom, however, a little extra heft and girth will throw these guys in with the heavyweights. It's a great track regardless, and I'm interested to see what these potential heavyweights hit us with next.
But Tekarra aren't the only headliners here, and Malamadre, to their credit, follow up with great aplomb. Without the benefit of vocals, the appropriately entitled Cataclismo makes subtle, sparse, and incredibly effective use of drums to fill the Less a mere necessity, each cymbal hit is a statement. By design, there is limited space for any real crescendo until the very end, and Malamadre actually get by quite well by simply offering minor changes to the riff structure and percussive patterns. That's not to say the back half doesn't make exceptionally great use of noisy elements to draw things towards a natural conclusion. The entire track feels wondrously organic--somehow alien and monstrous, when compared to Tekarra's more deliberate riffage. Appropriately enough, Malamadre state that their "slow and colossal riffs" are inspired by "legends of the great kaiju." Evident enough, and well executed. Cataclismo is supremely effective in building up an inevitable catharsis.
Both of these tracks strike me with their ability to take the unexpected and use it productively against the listener. Given Tekarra's runtime, I was expecting a drawn out affair, and yet, not so much. These 10 minutes hardly feel like 5, and that is truly an accomplishment. Malamadre, to their credit, succeed enormously without vocals, utilizing well-conceived and exceedingly deliberate instrumentation to great effect. They work off each other quite well, each illustrating and inhabiting a distinct persona of doom metal's drone-ier side. As a split should.
Tekarra / Malamadre's split was released April 5th, and can be found at their respective bandcamps.
Written by: Lichtmensch
In my opinion, funeral doom is not only one of the heaviest genres of metal, it is also probably the most suitable genre for evoking emotions in the listener. While those two aspects do not necessarily coincide in other genres of music, they do in funeral doom. I guess what I am trying to say here is that the heaviness of funeral doom and its emotional impact on the listener are two dimensions of one phenomenon. It’s the substance of the music that is heavy, both sonically and emotionally. Of course, this only is the case if the songwriting allows for it to happen. Funeral doom can be beautiful and devastating, hopeful and crushing, dark and uplifting all at the same time, if it is well-composed. That’s what I love about the genre--its ability to confuse and exert your emotions and leave you completely shattered in the end. Clouds manage to do just that on their latest album, Dor.
Clouds are a relatively young international band currently based in London, UK, and founded in 2013, whose music can be described as atmospheric funeral/death doom metal. Their compositions focus a lot on the atmosphere of the music, and the band uses plenty of musical elements such as ambient samples and orchestral instruments to create said atmosphere. Their deeply melancholic mixture of death and doom metal already impressed me when I heard their debut album Doliu, which is one of the best funeral/death doom records I’ve heard to this day. On their third album Dor, released today, Clouds once again offer an absolutely crushing and beautiful album that no fan of the genre should miss out on.
Dor lives off the contrast between atmospheric, floating orchestral/synth soundscapes, beautiful melodies and crushingly heavy riffs, clean harmonious singing and devastating low death growls. Dark and light, hope and desperation collide in these compositions. The lyrics talk of disappointment, disillusioning and doubt--they tell the story of a soul losing a loved one, and as a result falling into a pit of crushing sadness. Depression, despair and darkness characterize the mood of the lyrics. But at the same time there is beauty in these songs. There is wonder and hope piercing through the desperation, like sunlight through a thick wall of clouds. This album is a truly beautiful piece of art that leads you into darkness and transforms it into light.
The album is absolutely wonderfully written. The incorporation of orchestral elements into the compositions is as close to perfect as it probably can be. The use of the cello on the title track is only one example of a near perfect marriage of death-doom and classical music. Generally, the timing of calmer, more melodic and heavier sections is fantastic and very effective. I was already impressed by the way Evoken balanced such different elements and moods on their latest album Hypnagogia, but I actually think Clouds did an even better job here. You are thrown into darkness, picked up again, elevated to the light and thrown back down again by this album. It’s beautiful and painful and beautifully painful.
As if the fantastic music by the band wasn't enough, Dor features guest vocals by artists such as Gogo Melone (Aeonian Sorrow), Pim Blankenstein (Officium Triste), Sylvaine, Mihu (Abigail), Kayla Dixon (Witch Mountain) and Caleb Bergen (Sleepwalkers,) who all do a great job here. The album feels very thought-through and fleshed out. It’s well-rounded and logical in its development. I really can’t say anything negative about this album, except one or two spoken word sections that come off a little cheesy (I had the same complaint about the latest Evoken album, so it might be a general issue I have with the genre). Apart from that, it’s pretty much a perfect melodic/atmospheric funeral/death doom album and you should definitely check it out if you are a fan of anything melancholic, emotional, and dark.
Written by: The Soliloquist
As you are undoubtedly aware, a team of battle-scarred (yet remarkably personable) scribes have recently moved into our humble Village. First out of the gate is the mighty Ancient Hand. Best give him your undivided attention voluntarily, lest he demand it. - Mgmt
Black Tongue’s sound is made to be the heaviest thing in the known universe. There’s no flash or unnecessary showiness in their music; it simply wants to be as heavy as it possibly can. On their last record (2015’s “The Unconquerable Dark”), Black Tongue did an incredible job blending funeral doom and deathcore to create a deep, heavy, and monumental record that bridged the gap between two very different sub-genres of metal. Now, in 2018, Black Tongue have undertaken a follow-up release that seeks to solidify their sound and add new elements on top of it.
Right as the record kicks off, it’s clear that Black Tongue is trying some new things out. The ambient guitar work that builds to an ominous breakdown drips with dark atmosphere. The opening track itself, “The Eternal Return to Ruin,” features lyrics that elevate the album to heavenly heights, while also featuring vocals that sound as though they were birthed from the deepest pit of Hell. The lyrical themes are consistent throughout much of the release; the afterlife, pain, death, hopelessness, and the abuse of God and people are all used to create one of the darkest records of the year.
This record also features heavy influences from black metal that the band pushes to the forefront of many songs. Most notably, the beginning of “The Cathedral” burns with the same intensity of Norway’s churches in the early 90's.
In addition to wearing black metal influences on their sleeve, Black Tongue covers Celtic Frost’s classic “A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh,” and, to my surprise, they do a wonderful job. Singing is retained for this song (its only instance on the entire record), but Black Tongue still manages to make it their own with their signature sound towards the end of the track. Other songs to note are the punishing “Contrapasso” and the crushing “Parting Soliloquy.” The former also makes use of black metal influences from shrieks to tremolo-picked guitars, and the latter features some of the most haunting vocals I have heard all year with the repetition of “Please don’t leave me here” layered over harsh noise that sends shivers down my spine after multiple listens.
Overall, this record brings Black Tongue to the next level. It is very clear that they mean business, and their goal of blending these two seemingly contrasting sounds of deathcore and doom metal can still have even more sounds added into it. With a release this varied in metal influences, lyrical quality, and consistency between songs, I think it’s safe to say that Black Tongue have created one of the most punishing, dark, and stellar metal albums of the year.
Written by: Ancient Hand
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!