Into the Lungs of Hell: A Review of Hipoxia’s S.D.E.O.E. -Monvmentvm ab Khaos I-

In the contemporary metal landscape, there is no dearth of doom bands. So tremendous is the deluge of metal’s slowest genre that it can often be difficult to find anything noteworthy among the dozen or more new doom releases every week. Mimicry and complacency often reign. For this reason, it isn’t often that I will click play on one of the many doom promos that finds its way to my inbox. Something about Madrid quintet Hipoxia’s latest opus Si Devs Esset Occidendvs Erit -Monvmentvm ab Khaos I- caught my attention, though, and I have been able to listen to little else besides this album since.

What makes Hipoxia so noteworthy in a bloated genre of imitators? In my humble opinion, most modern doom bands lack the actual portentous quality for which the genre takes its name. Sure, most bands that play doom have the plodding pace, the riff, and the occult lyrics. Few, however, are able to capture that existential dread and terrifying mysticism of the very first note of the very first song of the very first doom album penned by none other than Black Sabbath, instead foregoing the gloom and specter in favor of a drug-addled haze and trance-inducing tone, losing all of the bite and malice in the process. On S.D.E.O.E., Hipoxia have not forgotten the faces of their fathers, channeling the ethos of early Black Sabbath but re-imagining that ghostly malevolence into a modern and multifaceted experiment in terrifying doom metal.

Across three long tracks, the shortest of which clocks in at nearly seven minutes, Hipoxia demonstrate their conviction and intent to uphold the older, better way, though they do so with surprising flair and panache. Although the tone across all three tracks is singularly grim, the band displays a remarkable sense of self and nuance, able to incorporate a number of diverse elements into one monumental and perverse construct. This quality is perhaps best displayed in first track “Nothing” that leads in with a measured but aggressive percussive attack that tapers into an heavily distorted, smoke-billowing doom riff that can only be defined as sinister in the way it rears and reverberates around you like a hungry predator. After a few minutes of inundating, acrid atmosphere, vocalist E. cries out from within the swirling fog in an echoing, plaintive tone that seems to beg for freedom from the black chasm of noxious layers of drone and dual guitar snarling. This plaintive tone though is soon lost in the malice as E. transitions into a menacing, growling glower that extols the virtues of annihilation into nothingness. The drums, meanwhile, maintain a steady, evenhanded march toward annihilation that perfectly fits the structure of the song. The entire track is impossibly dense, swallowing the light within its vast expanses of reverberating notes and cavernous production. This track is the keystone of this release, showing the band’s skill at subtly changing riffs and drum patterns while maintaining a generally glacial pace and obsidian tone. It is a chimerical beast that remains ever terrifying.

The following two tracks after “Nothing” perpetuate the sable tone and chthonic atmosphere, while continuing to demonstrate this band’s serpentine deftness. Where “Nothing” was measured and ponderous, “Oblivion” is mercurial and dramatic, morphing from a rapid, pummeling drum rhythm into an extended wave of cascading noise and minimal percussion that creates a diseased tension with a perfect catch-and-release when the cyclical pummeling begins again at the end of the long track. The drumming is perfectly complemented by a riff that somehow morphs from galloping to vacuous while maintaining a devastating quality. Where “Nothing” was direct and confrontational, “New Aeon of Destruction” is sinuous and illusive, relying more on a surprising juxtaposition between spoken word and sneering snarls than an outright barrage of riffs and drums. When the drums do arc toward a deafening crescendo, threatening to collapse the entire cavern in a rain of a percussive stalactites, the band instead abandons that tack entirely in the next moment, employing a surprising sleight of hand to drop you into yet another unexpected corner of eldritch horror that’s more open and empty but no less crushing than the monumental riffs of the preceding two songs.


All of this would be for naught if the actual performances were unimpressive, but Hipoxia are more than capable of capitalizing on the talents of each individual member to forge a horrifying sum total. Although the efforts of each individual performer could be described as minimalist, this should not be mistaken for carelessness. Every note and cymbal strike is in its proper place and only strengthens the whole rather than distracting from it. J.K.’s and A.’s guitar tone is perfect for the atmosphere they wish to create; every song bristles with malicious intent and drips with an inky, offensive tone. K.’s and O.S.’s drums and bass combine into an absurdly heavy bottom-end that keeps every track grounded like a behemoth, sepulchral backbone. Within all this din but never superseding it, vocalist E. belches noxious fumes like the throat of some damned dragon, becoming yet one more essential part of the horrifying cacophony.

All of this talent renders S.D.E.O.E. a thick, surprisingly deep record that leaves me hypnotized and anxious after each listen. Despite its length, it never feels monotonous, a compliment I can pay very few doom records in 2016. In truth, I can find no fault in it other than the fact that the final track is only slightly weaker than the prior two. Hipoxia are creepy in the way that only the upper echelons of funeral and death-doom bands can be, easily taking a place alongside the likes of Khanate, Thergothon, and Catacombs while remaining catchy in a way that even more hard-rocking, less-atmosphere oriented bands like even the excellent Vainaja fail to be. S.D.E.O.E. is frankly everything I want in a doom album, and if you’re looking for an entry point into the genre, look no further.

4.5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell



Si Devs Esset Occidendvs Erit -Monvmentvm ab Khaos I- is out now via American Line Productions. You can pick up the album over at Bandcamp. While you’re at it, swing by Facebook and tell Hipoxia, “Hola!”

(Photos VIA)

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Published on: June 6, 2016

Filled Under: New Stuff, Reviews

Views: 984

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  • Lacertilian

    This killer review compelled me to give this album another chance, as the cursory listen at work clearly wasn’t sufficient…was not disappointed at all!

  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Oh, damn, 4.5 Flaming Toilets.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    so many big words

  • Yeah, this seems like something that I’d definitely be into. Can’t wait to get miserable with this one. I can hear some Corrupted in this.

  • Joaquin Stick

    There is no shortage of a doomed feeling here, you got that right. Very timely Dark Tower reference by they way, I am going to reread that soon after I finished what I am currently on.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I also caught the reference!

    • Abradolf Lincler

      havent read dat. my old lady read all of em tho (on her kindle so i cant read them), she said it was a good

    • Pentagram Sam

      Question! Do you do the revised Gunslinger on the re-reads or the original? I bought a cheapo paperback of the revised just to see what was up and it just seemed too George Lucasy.

      • Dubs

        Pretty sure my first read-through was the revised copies.

        • Pentagram Sam

          Ok cool man. I think he was wanting to revise the first four but only did the Gunslinger.

          Basically the changes were it starts off with the todash chimes, hinting at the end. Alan is Alain, the fucking massacre at Tull is changed to where he doesn’t just blow Alice way due to his hands acting on their own, Walter doesnt “die” at the end.

          I think there were some more little ones here and there but the new intro, and the way Tull and Walter were handled were the big uns.

          • Dubs

            Hmm. I’m not sure which version I read then. I remember thinking it seemed like Walter died at the end, only for it to be revealed later that wasn’t the case.

            Did you read The Wind Through the Keyhole?

          • Pentagram Sam

            Nah, not yet. I love the Tower books but really didn’t like the rushed job on the last three books. I think he did em so fast cos he thought he was gonna die soon. Then, when Wind Thru the Keyhole came out, I was just like, “Goddammit man! I would rather have had you spend more time on the final three books and have a definitive conclusion to the series than have another little tale.”

            Where on the Tower spectrum do you put Keyhole? I heard it was actually pretty good. Randall / Marten is in it right? If so then I might just break down and do it. Amazon Prime baby!

            Speaking of that: That’s the other big thing I got all butthurt about is that for YEARS until the last books came out, Walter WAS NOT Marten. Walter was a powerful wizard and Lt. to Marten. I mean, Roland took Walter’s jawbone off and threw it in a fire in Wastelands and that’s when Eddie saw the shape of the key he had to carve to pull Jake thru the door.

            So if Walter didn’t die then why was the random jawbone magical and shit?! AHHHHHHHHH

          • Dubs

            I liked it quite a bit as a fun bit of backstory. It has its problems, but the story is more lighthearted and fun.

      • Joaquin Stick

        I have only read it once, and I have the revised version. Should I seek out the original for this run?

        • Pentagram Sam

          Hmmmm. I would say yes, because the tone in the original is different. The way Walter is portrayed is much more ambiguous I think. Roland has spent all this time following the man in black, only to realize that he is not the endgame, but merely player in a much larger scene. It almost felt like a resolution in Roland meeting him and then Walter (at the time) dying while Roland slept, and then him beginning this new greater quest at the edge of the Western Sea. I really don’t like how they shoehorned this crap in there about Walter really was Marten and did some magic todash trick to double back on Roland and blah blah blah. If Walter was just an emissary of Marten, then Marten is serious shit. ALSO the palaver with the man in black in the original mentions Roland will face IT, as in THE IT, but that got removed from the revised edition. Dandelo in book VII is kinda sorta supposed to be a distant cousin of IT but Walter specifically mentions IT as a guardian of the Tower.

          Plus it really hammers home his intense training and lifelong art of killing when he wipes out Tull. The way the death of Alice was portrayed in the new version almost seems like a “Greedo shoots first” moment to make Roland seem less callous.

          If you can find an original version in the big paperback, (prob cheap on Amazon) it has some of the best illustrations from Michael Whelan who came back for book VII

          Oh man, I could talk Tower for hours.

          • Hans Müller

            “Hour of Tower”. Podcast. Go.

    • Hans Müller

      Aaaah, that’s why that phrase seemed familiar.

  • Alright, going to start this monster here. Good thing it’s long, because these operator manual updates are going to take me all afternoon to update.

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

    I liked it up until the vocals. That noise he makes at 9:49 on the first track is fucking hilarious! Sounds like the moans you’d hear in a 70’s pizza guy porno.

  • tigeraid

    Hmmm…. Dubya’s last Doom recommendation made me devour Doomsword whole. Shall I fall down this dank rabbit hole again? I might.

  • Had to take a pee break after song one. Pushes play on song two, and BOOM! Big change of pace.

  • Finished it Dubz. I enjoyed it, I think you nailed it on your review. Less crushing perhaps and more eerie. Like being trapped in the mind of a psychopath mind. I’d listen to this while watching The Cell on mute.

    • Dubs

      Whoah, that would be an experience.

    • Also purchased the album on Bandcamp. I can’t wait to hear this on my speaker system at home.

      • Dubs

        It is pretty awesome on surround sound

        • Exactly! Doom and sludge is always the best on a good speaker system I find.

        • Abradolf Lincler

          had this convo with my boss the other day (also a vinyl lover). why listen in surround sound (more than two channels) when it was mixed for 2

          • Dubs

            Depends on whether it’s mixed that way or not, I guess. I think in this case, though, it would make you feel more engulfed by the darkness.

          • Hans Müller

            Only album I know that’s mixed for 5.1 is a reissue of The Shape of Punk to Come. I do agree that surround adds to the atmosphere though. Crushes you more evenly.

  • BobLoblaw

    Anyone check out Asphalt Graves?

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    W. it goes without saying but damn are you a smart well written mofo.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I’d say just about every single genre is bloated with imitators. Even if doom has fewer innovators.

    • Dubs

      I won’t argue that point. I just feel that the amount of boring, unoriginal stoner doom is higher than lame bands in any other genre.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Doom has a ton of stale shit in it, I give you that – but on the other hand, think of generic swedeath bands

        • Dubs

          Good point. I’m just speaking about the sheer volume. Remember how many stoner bands we unearthed during the best unsigned band contest?

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Uff, way too many. And just about all sucked. Stoner (doom) might be the single hardest genre to not suck in.

      • Hans Müller

        Incidentally, I searched for “bong*” on MA today. 14 bands, only one of which doesn’t have stoner or doom in the genre. I daresay 11 of those sound exactly the same.

    • Hans Müller

      If a genre has more innovators, doesn’t that just imply an exponentially higher number of imitators, i.e. the rate stays roughly the same?

  • Waynecro

    That’s a mighty fine review. Thanks, W.

    • Dubs

      You’re a mighty fine Wayne, Wayne.

      • Waynecro

        Thanks. I try.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I haven’t played it yet, but yer review makes me mighty interested.

  • Eliza

    With doom being a genre that I find myself indulging quite a lot, I have to say that I find this album really fantastic. Also, this review >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>