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To Reap Heavens Apart - 100%

Buarainech, January 31st, 2014

After how many albums can we start talking about bands as having a flawless discography? 3 seems like a reasonable number, and though Procession technically have not hit that number yet, I've always considered The Cult Of Disease to be a full length rather than an EP (it's actually a few seconds longer than Destroyers Of The Faith anyway!), meaning now with major release numero tres it might be time to start thinking about putting these Chilean Epic Doom merchants into that category. Both those 2 aforementioned releases are now titans of the genre, almost absolutely ticking all the boxes of the Candlemass/Solitude Aeternus blueprint, but with To Reap Heavens Apart they may have just ascended to a platform of absolute perfection. Much like with last year's Death And Judgement EP where their Scald cover almost matched the original for power they now can be considered equals rather than students of the Swedish masters, and not only that, showing some strong individual touches too.

Even on the closing track of this record (“Far From Light”) where they are nearest to the typical Swedish Doom sound the sheer quality shines through any detractions about being derivative, and at the opposite end of the 44 minute duration “Damnatio Memorae” brings a touch of Solstice-like gallop to proceedings that diversifies and widens their sound more than ever before. Despite being the shortest of their 3 main releases by a small margin this is by far their most epic, and their most confident sounding, evident by their willingness to try new things.

“Conjurer” may add little to its template except a slight “Egyptian” tone to the guitar leads (though it is far from kitsch and perfectly fits the necromantical lyrical bent) and instead is built around the trademark emotional strain to Felipe Kutzbach's phenomenal voice, but “Death And Judgement” and “The Death Minstrel” are much braver efforts entirely. For the former the spoken word beginning sees Felipe take a page out of his good friend Alan Averill's book (think “The Soul Must Sleep” for a reference point), but musically it is the essence of Doom Metal, going right back to Black Sabbath's title track for its vibe and lyrics. Speaking of the Primordial frontman he lends his pipes to the latter for a recital of the Rainer Maria Rilker poem “Death”, earning poetry nerd points from me simply for not choosing one of his less well known poems. Alan has made excellent contributions to songs by Marduk and Desaster before, but never has he been as involved as deeply in an album's concept as this.

For those unfamiliar with his work Rilker's poetry mainly focuses on a rejection of Christianity and a finding of true salvation through artistic expression, and that ideal is clearly replicated through the album title and theme spread through all these 6 songs. The effect is so that in spite of being the dourest and most solemn of Doom bands Procession are also incredibly uplifting and life-affirming, a perfect palette of emotional shades only ever conquered by the very few real Metal masters. For the highest individual peak of this we have to look to the triumphant sounding title track where everything coalesces like alchemy; the riffs, the composition, the solos, the emotion in the vocals and the amazingly-crafted lyrics- Metal frankly does not get much better than this.

In spite of the height that Procession go to on that song what is more impressive is the way in which that theme adopted from Rilker is spread evenly across the whole album. As “Far From Light” fades out, listen carefully to those lyrics; “And far from light, the sombre/ Still standing proud, unchained...” Can we ever express the freedom and life-affirming nature of this music of ours more perfectly than this? Maybe the time is not only right to start talking about a perfect discography of Procession, but also this album as a thoroughbred Heavy Metal milestone. [10/10]

From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts

Ethereal melodic doom - 85%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 16th, 2013

I’m not going to claim to be any sort of authority on doom metal, whilst I have an appreciation for the style, it isn’t one I have a lot of time for outside of writing. However, if there’s one particular sub-style of the doom genre that I do have a decent grasp on, it’s the melodic, epic brand that bands such as Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and Solstice do so well. Luckily for me, Chile’s Procession deliver such an approach on their sophomore full-length effort.

Expect grandiose songs, passionate vocals and punishing riffs here, as it would seem Procession know exactly what they’re doing, with a deft approach to crafting their chilling, poignant brand of doom metal. Felipe Plaza Kutzbach’s vocals are a particular strong point on the album, giving a Messiah Marcolin inspired performance, with soaring, haunting vocal lines, and an ace tone. On “Death & Judgement” there’s a drop in the music, and Felipe’s vocals carry the song for a short while, which comes off quite powerful, particularly when listened to on headphones – I had chills.

The rest of the band carve leviathan sculptures of trudging riffs, pummelling bass lines, and crashing drums. The use of cymbals on the album really gives the music an ominous, thunderstorm like feel, helping to evoke the imagery conveyed in the album title, artwork, and of course the lyrics throughout. The guitar riffs are perfect doom fare, with that classic Nightfall vibe going on in places, although never verging on plagiarism, and certainly coming across heavier which is in part thanks to lower guitar sound. Claudio Botarro Neira’s bass guitars are possibly the most important aspect of the Procession sound, with his performance driving each of the tracks. The bass lines are seriously fucking cool here.

Across the album the band delivers some really well-written doom, which can be seen in the likes of the aforementioned “Death & Judgement”, the killer title track and the towering “Far From Light”. As far as I’m concerned this is some first class stuff, as I’ve said the performances are killer, although just to reiterate on the guitars; be on the look out for some blinding solos throughout the album, these guys really bring the pain.

If you’re at all a fan of the style, particularly the melodic/epic branch, then you should probably drop what you’re doing and get this album. Procession have really sold me on their sound here, with passionate performances, killer songwriting and wonderful production values. To Reap Heavens Apart is well worth checking out, and one of the finest albums I’ve heard in the genre in 2013. Recommended!

Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com

Procession - On the way to Greatness - 95%

ThrashManiacAYD, May 9th, 2013

Buried deep in the annals of metal history is the true doom lineage, a timeline of an immortal genre existent since 13th February 1970 - the release date of "Black Sabbath". There have been many wonderful bands since then but few deserving of the echelons created by that Birmingham foursome - read Candlemass, Pentagram, Trouble, Reverend Bizarre and few others. It is time to consider adding Procession to that list.

"Destroyer of the Faith" was but a sign of things to come; the "first real step on the path of success" as I said then continues here on "To Reap Heavens Apart". As the opening chords of "Damnatio Memorae" strike and the foundations are laid for a lead riff that is befitting of Primordial's much heralded compositions, "Conjurer" introduces Felipe Kutzbach's despairing vocals to a musical performance that reveals depth and intrigue. The rumbling bass sound and performance of Claudio Neira is a defining aspect of the album; ever audible and just as keen to court attention while the two guitars vie for leads and rhythm domination, he floats free of the supposed structure for bass to imitate guitar, increasing the well of emotion and scale of composition at a stroke.

Right down from the vastness of the artwork (which begs for vinyl purchase) the huge scale of this album continues with "Death & Judgement", its stomping Candlemass-ian opening ably matched by Kutzbach's pleading of "There's someone calling at my grave / I can't believe I am dead" in tones of revential penance. The subsequent solos, which rise and fall with the tempo, round off a true great. Into the album's title track and Procession move in a faster vein on a true epic; the vocal structure around the chorus brings me goosebumps even after multiple listens as Kutzbach leads his comrades high into the heavens with a classic searing procession of lines and lead riffs. Even those less effected than I cannot doubt the effectiveness of the frontman in stirring the metal soul in true Alan Averill (Primordial) style as if a commander on the eve of war.

As an album this is rich in positivity if you know how to find it among the courage and strength that bleeds from every riff, but in "The Death Minstrel" there is a true spirit crusher in classic doom fashion. Mournful acoustic guitar leads into a funereal march of a riff, each snare hit sounding like a hammer to heart of skinsman Uno Bruniosson. Such morose sentiments wash into epic closer "Far From Light" which peddles the expertly simplistic feel of Reverend Bizarre to fill an endless void of time with a cascading voluminous pounding sent straight from above.

Doom metal in 2013 has many great acts in its diverse and disparate guises but in Procession it has an act beyond mere 'great'. This band have it - that magical, elusive quality immediately endorsing of a band who don't just play their music but stand for its virtues and become a figurehead for others to look up to. True doom metal has that in Procession.

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net