You Send Me Things, I Listen to Them: Wood of Suicides x Mournspire
Today you get a double dose of extreme doom sure to make you feel horrible. What more could you want?
Do you have a hankering for fat-bottomed Salome riffs accented by vocal snarls spat with all the cynicism of a forty-something, blue-collar father of four? Wood of Suicides has just the thing for your jaded, bitter heart. Tree of Woe, the sprawling, sophomore effort from the world-weary Aussies is a gargantuan paean to eternal pain and misery, a monument to failure and despondency that would make David Gold shed a single tear of mutual understanding were he alive today.
Although the album is loaded with all the conventional mores of downtrodden extreme doom, including hadal riffs, affected growls, and caveman drums, the depressing devil, as always, is in the details. What sets Tree of Woe apart from the would-be sadboy pretenders is the nuance with which the band explores their ennui; every single track on the album features some little eccentricity or curiosity to slake your thirst for depth. From the rapid-fire clean chords that lead you out of the shaded woods of melancholy in opening track “Tree of Woe” to the harmonized growls and melodic singing in “Swamp,” Wood of Suicides proves that there is an infinite depth of sadness to mine in the emotional well of human suffering. That all that depth is also communicated through the powerful riffs, rarely repetitive or monotonous but only lingering long enough to convey a sense of primal torment, is a revelation and testament to the band’s prowess. You’ll find a whole lot to bring you down on Tree of Woe, but nothing to bore you as the burdens unpacked twist and turn through a fractal kaleidoscope of sincere drum, bass, and guitar delivered with total earnestness.
At its most conventional, Tree of Woe delivers massive grooves with constantly morphing double bass and primordial drumming. At their most aspirational, the band evokes a wide range of distraught entities across the extreme metal spectrum, from the monochromatic rawness of Rites of Thy Degringolade to the palpable heft (thanks to a meaty, cloudy production that serves the emotional vulnerability well) of Goatsblood. Tree of Woe just goes to prove that Anaïs Nin was right; “great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
Come for the big ol’ riffs, but stay for the big ol’ feels.
While no less emotionally bereft, Virginia grievers Mournspire explore extreme doom through a far different, though complementary, lens of sorrow. Where Tree of Woe invokes the harshness of reality with grimy riffs and tarry vocals that cling to you like reminders of all your past failures, Mournspire’s debut Liminals of Profound Loss approaches hurt from a more colorful and austere direction. Here the funeral doom-inspired riffs draw heavily upon the theatricality of tragedy for which the Peaceville Three was so widely known; across these eight tracks you’ll find all manner of pinch harmonics, guitar solos, lush synths, and layered vocals. The effect is one of stoic splendor – like a beautiful widow commanding every eye in her captivating grief.
Thankfully, that beauty is far more than mere superficial trapping. The rich synths, massive cymbal strikes, and pained choral effects are as compositionally essential as the towering riffs themselves. Each track is a melodic eulogy that manages to channel the emotive weight of peak Opeth with intricate, shapeshifting riffs and the raw vulnerability of early Giant Squid with the lamenting string arrangements and anguished spoken word. This compositional approach, where each track is treated as a miniature drama in itself, culminates in a deeply rewarding and refreshing listen than maintains your interest far after the final strains of momentous doom riffs fade.
If Tree of Woe speaks of the fall with its harshness and grim reality, Liminals of Profound Loss reminds you of the quiet strength of enduring unspeakable hardship, and it does so in a way that evokes a sense of awe and grandeur often missing from this genre. It’s as compelling a listen as Bereft’s most recent effort, one sure to linger upon you like a delicate cloak of mourning for quite some time.
Many thanks to both bands for bumming me out so thoroughly. Both albums can be heard on Bandcamp now.