On this episode: Karhu dances on a trapeze set between the two polar opposite poles of the doom-spectrum. Will the riff prevail or will he fall into his (death/)doom? Tune in for the next, exciting episode of Doomthousandseventeen!
THE LONE MADMAN – DREARY TASK
Independent | 2016
The Lone Madman is a trad. doom band from Helsinkiville. To my rather great shame, I did not find them on my own, but required the assistance of Verminerd John Brooks. What really made this a shame was his apt comparison of their lone EP, —, to one of my all-time favourites, Reverend Bizarre. After a short intro, Dreary Task kicks into gear with everything you could ask of a doom band – heavy, dark riffs, ominous leads, headbanging rhythms and at about 1:30 into “Soul Stillborn”, those RB-esque vocals. Both, Turkka Inkilä’s voice, and his phrasing are more than a little reminiscent of Albert Witchfinder, but fortunately their more traditional, guitar-heavy riffing keeps things from becoming mere worship; the occasional doubled-vocals help colour his performance outside the lines pre-set by his voice. For the most part Juuso Raunio’s and Inkilä’s guitar work in unison, leaving much room for Veera Vallinkoski’s constantly rumbling bass, occasionally deviating from the six-stringers’ lines, adding some much desired depth to the recording.
“Invocation” begins mournfully, before delving into pure riffing filth, and the “choir” on the chorus lifts it into hymnic heights. Right before the song takes a turn into more rocking territory, both the vocals and riffs becoming so vividly RB-like, you’d think this was a demo from the Crush The Insects sessions. Finally, “Oh Death”, lyrically based on the traditional song of the same name, brings the EP to a menacing end, riffs and leads doubling each other, eventually sinking into despair and erupting into the most uptempo riff a Lone Madman could muster.
There may not be half-as-many riffs as on a half-a-tech-death-thursday article on the average, but every single one is soul-stirringly memorable. Every line hits a homerun, every beat bangs the head that doesn’t bang. Although clocking between 8 and 13 minutes, not a single song feels overwrought or too long. There’s skill in these arrangements that makes great promises for the young band’s future, and for an independent release, mixed and recorded by members of the band themselves, Dreary Task sounds professional and very good indeed, leaving room for each instrument and not drowning dynamics for the sake of LOUD. Git gud, and get on this.
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CRIMSON SWAN – UNLIT
Quality Steel Records | 2015
I first grew interested in this album because AMG would not shut up about how good it is. Before the opener, “Fade To Nothingness” had been on for a minute I knew I’d be hooked. The gentle atmosphere of the keys, the dragging whole note power chords, simplistic piano melody, deep growls and rueful and fragile, yet determined, clean vocal performance were enchanting. Even though it falls prey to chugging throughout, it’s nine and half minutes of pure nighttime-forestwalking-bliss. And it is with a heavy heart, and great grief, that I admit the following 45 minutes are not up to par.
Crimson Swan’s simplistic death/doom reminds, quite a bit, of Red Moon Architect – whom I have previously featured, using keyboards to attract texture, form plain-but-effective melodies and instill a sense of sorrow. Only their songs feature a more gothic influence, an attempt at the harrowing plays on heartstrings by the likes of My Dying Bride, than the aforementioned. Yet each song after the first becomes more dirge-y, abandoning the barrage of power chords – “A Waterfall Of Sorrow” lagging and dragging its weight through funeral doom-esque soundscapes. There are only very few hopeful moments on the album – the leads, halfway through “Words Of Perdition”, followed by quiet vocal harmonies on the title track are a cut above the rest, both in mood and quality.
On the other hand, the band has a flair for crafting rough and simple death/doom in an engaging way, but too much of the album feels like sketches of great songs yet to come into being. Their primal approach barely works, and they spend such long spans of time building tension it usually escapes before any release is achieved. And the general songwriting isn’t really strong enough to carry six long songs of the same.
At other times, I feel like Unlit is a strong-enough album despite its flaws, worthy of about 3.5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell out of the fabled 5, but at other times I feel the contrast between the good and the bad is just too big and a 1.5/5 would be more appropriate. But whatever you end up feeling regarding this record – “Fade To Nothingness” is a nine-outta-ten.