Written by: Lord Hsrah
One of the best aspects of doom metal is the way the music encapsulates the pure essence of grief, of tragedy, of sadness, and of sorrow--all in the most beautiful and grim way. With all that's happening around us these days, as well in the near past, "the days have been long and heavy" is saying the very least. Marrowfields' Metamorphoses captures the true effects of all of those aforementioned feelings and emotions in the most melodiously dark way.
Based in Fall River, Massachusetts, this 5-piece band have very boldly brought forth this debut full length effort, hitting the hammer hard and heavy with excellent material and musicianship. Composer and guitarist Brandon Green's guitar work is immaculate, and, paired with fellow guitarist Josh Moran, the strings get pretty heavy. The Candlemass and Pallbearer influences are evident without even feeling the need to be explicitly mentioned as the loud and clean vocals laid down by Ken Gillis add to the album the eerie sorrowful effect, while the rhythm section holds down the line extremely well as bassist Tim Cabral and drummer AJ Grimes combine to produce the very heartbeat of the album.
Metamorphoses is comprised of five epic, melodic, and slow doomy tracks. Lyricist Green's subject of lyrics touch multiple factions of the mortal life that we live and the many direct consequences of our actions in our pursuit of seeing the light of the next day--our struggle to just make it by. Matters of life and death, the tales of the old, the withering of the seasons, and how they all take a toll on us are subjects that are amply discussed throughout this epic 51-minute album. Every track averages over 10 minutes in play time, perfectly arranged with just the most optimal segments of music. The fact that there's not one dull moment at any point in the full 51 minutes that this record runs for is a testament to that.
As an atmospheric doom metal album, Metamorphoses packs all the standard stuff that one would expect from...well, an atmospheric doom metal album. But the most notable thing with Marrowfield's debut is that over the course of it's run time, there's not a lot of repetitive structures and the various segments in the songs provide a great deal of depth and dynamicity to the music. Doom metal can often get pretty repetitive and drone-y (and there is, rightfully, a totally different sub-genre for that, haha) for some, but Metamorphoses easily breaks out of that shape to proudly boast of some of the very solid guitarwork I've heard in doom this year so far. That being said, I cannot stress enough how much I love Green's guitar compositions! Adopting certain aspects of black metal--and this is where the Agalloch influence comes in--the guitar work is flexible and doesn't feel rigidly bound by play style restrictions. Honestly, I'm a sucker for all things atmospheric, ambient, melodic, slow and heavy, and for me personally, this album is aesthetically pleasing. The lead lines are immaculate, the riffage is nice and heavy and the clean passages are eerily haunting and set the mood for some good mourning time very well.
One the few things that I couldn't overlook was that certain sections can get a bit too fast for me, as well as for a lot of doom metal fans. Unlike a lot of atmospheric doom metal albums, the cleans sometimes feel wanting, and in those moments, this just feels like an epic doom metal album with atmospheric elements. Though flexible with play style and diverse in sections, the album is a bit too 'standard', in that like a lot of other atmospheric doom metal albums, Metamorphoses follows a very clear formula with variations in the arrangements of it's constituent variables. However, outside of these few, very easily negligible shortcomings, Metamorphoses is an extremely solid and enjoyable album. If it doesn't grow on you the first time you listen to it, it'll definitely leave an earworm or two for you to come back to it and then it's only a matter of time till it's all over you, and before you know it, you're already humming a lick (or if you're crazy like me, you'd be humming a bunch of riffs) or singing along with Gillis.
The one standout track for me would be "Crow and Raven"--starts out with a clean, multi-layered ambient guitar section, followed by a verse that smoothly transitions into the heavy stuff that anchors this ship steady and deep. All in all, Metamorphoses is an incredibly crafted album by Green and company, and with a debut so hard hitting, I can't wait to see what these lads come up with next! Until then I'm going to be content with this perfectly flawed album.
Marrowfields - Metamorphoses was released on April 24th viaBlack Lion Records.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!