Category Archives: Downtempo

Doom:VS – Earthless

Doom:Vs - Earthless

After almost 6 years Doom:VS is finally back with a new album, “Earthless”. “Earthless” is the third full length from this side project of Draconian guitarist Johan Ericson and was released this past May by the Russian Doom label Solitude Productions.  On previous releases Ericson took on all of the vocal duties himself – and did a really nice job of it. This time around however, he has enlisted the help of Saturnus vocalist, Thomas A.G. Jensen who brings his trademark deep, guttural growls and soft spoken words. Jenson’s vocals bring a strong Saturnus feel to the music which blends with uncanny ease into the Doom:VS, Draconian style. Although Jenson’s vocals are very strong and his spoken words add a new element to the music, I’m a bit disappointed that Ericson has chosen to leave out a lot of the clean vocals that made the previous album “Dead Words Speak” so great. This is not to say he has forgotten about them entirely. They do find their way into the last two songs “Oceans of Despair” and “The Slow Decent”. In any case Jenson’s thunderous growls have a way of sending chills through your spine and his spoken word is as strong and sorrowful as ever which more than makes up for the lack of clean singing.

There’s no arguing the fact that “Earthless” is a very solid, doom metal release. In fact it’s one of the best extreme doom releases this year in my opinion. It can be however, slightly predictable. Sometimes though predictability is a welcome thing. Sometimes it’s nice to throw on an album knowing full well that you will find quality song writing, strong production and you can sit back and relax, loosing yourself in the familiar, welcoming feel of the music. I’ve always been fond of the guitar tones Ericson uses. They are unique and recognizable. There’s feeling in the slow, dark riffs and sweeping harmonies of the leads which create a very melancholic yet familiar atmosphere. With Doom:VS this sound is a bit more raw and organic than with Draconian or Saturnus.

As with all Doom:VS releases the music is slow death/doom and does not quite reach funeral doom territory. There are six tracks on the album with the shortest being just under 7 1/2 minutes. The songs flow very well from the opening song “Earthless” to the very last note of “The Slow Ascent”. I can’t say there are any weak moments. Every song is strong and well thought out.  The whole album is just over 50 minutes long but it flows through quicker than you might expect. A sign of a good album and not something a lot of bands in this genre can accomplish.

No matter which way you cut it, “Earthless” is a must listen for any fan of death/doom or even funeral doom. It continues down the tried, tested and true path set by the project’s earlier releases so if you’re expecting ground breaking innovation you will be slightly disappointed. If you just want some very strong, melancholic doom then this album will fulfill all of your expectations and more.

Doom:VS is:
Johan Ericson (All instruments)
Guest vocals performed by Thomas AG Jenson (Saturnus)

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Sundowning – Seizures Of The World

Sundowning - Seizures Of The World

German multi-genre act, Sundowning play an authentically tantalising mixture of Post Hard-core, Downtempo and Sludge, and my do they play it well.  Currently available through the excellent Moment of Collapse label, this tremendous 12″ release is a frantically brutal attack on the senses from this Ruhr area quartet.  Although their name suggests otherwise (Sundowning is a psychological phenomenon associated with increased confusion and restlessness in patients with some form of dementia), this release is, in our opinion, simply unforgettable, and undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2012.  Lead track, ‘Heartless’ is a slow burner that builds gently from a tender and ethereal Sigur Rós like feel to a cataclysmic flurry of well executed anger, recollective of the masterful Cult of Luna.  Title track ‘Seizures of the World’ lurks with a classic sway that is reminiscent of the sound which has served Sacramento group Deftones so well since their inception way back in 1988.  ‘Shimmering’ is more of a slower paced behemoth, melodically rich and technically brilliant in equal measure, most notably so in the dual guitar threat posed from the musically gifted Christoph and Pascal, respectfully.  The thundering rhythms that are spewed forth are sludgy and tar thick whilst the vocals also complement the group’s overall sound extremely well.  A clean guitar intro to ‘Thanatos’ soon gives way to crippling distortion and unrestrained vocals from Christoph.  Finally, slicing guitar rhythms dictate the pace of closing track ‘Salvations’, with pounding drums and carving throat induced roars featuring very high on the agenda.  As mentioned previously, this is one of the best releases of the year, don’t overlook this hidden gem.

Sundowning are: Christoph (Vocals and Guitars), Pascal – (Guitars), Basti – (Drums), Markus – (Bass).

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Order Seizures of The World here.


Eratomania – Mental Suffocation

Eratomania – Mental Suffocation

Eratomania have been performing down-tempo black metal since early 2010.  This young Belgian duo use unique song structures to change gear halfway through their opening track ‘Mental Suffocation’, this is cleverly done to tie in with the theme of the song – schizophrenia.  The loud and angry Black Metal parts are sandwiched neatly between some gentle and ambient clean guitar.  this is a fresh and welcome approach to the more traditional song structures.  The same game plan is applied to ‘Within My (B)Reach’, showcasing how effortlessly the band can transform from serenity to despair at the drop of a hat.  Although this seems to be a winning formula applied by the Limburg two, It seems a little safe and cautious in parts. I for one, would have liked to hear the drummer be a little more adventurous.  Given that there are only three songs on ‘Mental Suffocation’ the group have missed the chance to display further, the fruits of their labour, however it is important to remember that this is a demo and not an E.P..  Also, you get the feeling that just as they get into fifth gear, the slow proceedings right down again, stuttering the hard gained momentum of before.  ‘Lasting Days’ is a slow moving beast which is the best of the three tracks on offer.  A sullen guitar performance the brightest light in one of the darkest releases of recent years.  All in all this is a very strong release from an exciting young band, and something they can be very proud of.  here’s hoping there will be much more to come from Eratomania.  The group have since recruited a new drummer who will be formally announced in the coming months, and are working hard on a new album.

Eratomania are:
Surtur (Vocals, Drums & Guitars), Galgrat (Guitars)

Eratomania on Immortal Frost Productions.
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Rise Above Dead – Stellar Filth

Stellar Filth

Stellar Filth is the debut album from Milan’s Rise Above Dead.  Boasting some crisp and well produced tones that build steadily to mesmerizingly heavy melodies, this quintet have finally unleashed their first full-length since their inception back in 2009.  The group play a fine mixture of  Post Hardcore / Sludge / Experimental and Downtempo, their album is available now on vinyl via Moment of Collapse Records in Germany.  The long wait has seemingly paid off and it is easy to tell from one listen, that these guys have worked incredibly hard to pull out all the stops on this.  As the saying goes, the best things come to those who wait.  Things kick off nicely on opener ‘Hide and Weep’ with an exasperated vocal performance from Andrea Rondanini. A dirty bass-line prowls through the claustrophobically sublime tones of ‘No Land Toward The Sea’, whilst erratic guitars pound and pummel the senses in equal measure and aplomb.  ‘Bury Them In Dust’ has a scything guitar hook from the get go that is an air guitarists’ dream. I implore anyone to try and get through this track without nodding in approval, of this slow moving behemoth.  Title track ‘Stellar Filth’ picks up right where it’s predecessor left off, with wondrous drumming from sticks man Luca Riommi and the wailing surge of walled guitars building the suspense with effortless cool.  The exceptional originality that is exhibited in the guitar work of duo Stefano Bigoni and Matteo Sala continues to bear fruit on closing track ‘A Thousand Thornes’, which has a opening riff that is simply unforgettable.  In conclusion, this is an essential purchase for fans of this genre and completists should also check out their 2010 self-released four track EP entitled ‘Human Disintegration’, which features artwork from renowned Californian artist Justin Bartlett, you will not be disappointed.

Rise Above Dead are:
Andrea Rondanini (Vocals), Luca Riommi (Drums), Stefano Bigoni (Guitar), Matteo Sala (Guitar), Diego Leone (Bass).

 

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