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With Reclusiam's self titled (and so far only) release, we find an excellent example of an album that looks up to and acknowledges its' influences while blending them with the artists' own unique touch to reach something wonderful. This may not be a hugely original release, but it is a wonderfully passionate and perfectly executed look into the world of funeral doom/death metal. The reason that I would not call this release simply funeral doom is because there are still plenty of traces of doom/death present within the sound, which at times gives it a more grounded sense of heaviness and romanticism while still preserving the atmosphere that makes funeral doom so special. Each track on this release is very different, which I believe merits looking at them individually.
The first track starts off very well, everything is crystal clear, which is quite surprising with this genre. The performance is also flawless, and the vocals are the typical deep, guttural growls you might expect, but are very passionately performed as well as having a very nice tone. The guitars play some crushing riffs here in the vein of Shape of Despair, and the drums are so perfectly in time that I thought it was a drum machine at first. The only thing that kind of threw me off with the first track was that some of the keyboard effects towards the middle and end of the song were a bit strange. I don't mean to challenge the artists' decision to make the album the way that he did, but the atmosphere and playing sucked me in early on and some of those keyboard effects took me out of it. This, however is simply a minor complaint, as this song is still a great way to set the pace for what is to come.
The second track was my favorite on the album. I believe that of all of the tracks this one seemed to be the most concise one to sum up the sound on the album. The atmosphere here is just perfect, suffocating everything with a grief and despair that virtually bleeds through your speakers. The intentions of the artist came through perfectly here, balancing beauty and heaviness just as well if not better than the artists that inspired this project. My only complaint on this track (and it is a very minor one) is that the ambient break around the 3:30 mark seemed like it was a bit too busy. I felt like that was a section where the music needed to breathe a bit, which I believe the songwriting in that area was perfect for, but I feel that it would have been a bit more effective if one or two instruments were taken out of that section. However, the song continues marvelously and the second ambient break near the end of the song was genius. I loved the sitar sounding effects that were used, this part was very inventive and fit perfectly. I also liked the 3 note lick in the background near the end, it really reminded me of "Turn Loose the Swans" era My Dying Bride. Overall, it was a really great song.
The third track was also very cool and it seemed to be the most doom/death influenced and maybe just a bit less funeral sounding because of that, but great nonetheless. I think the vocal delivery on this song was the best on the album, the lyrics are delivered with equal parts disgust and sorrow regarding war and the lives lost because of battle. I also really enjoyed the riff at the beginning, it started out sounding a bit like old Paradise Lost, but then it created a great deal of tension by hanging on the ending note the way that it did, which was a bit unexpected but I loved it. I also really enjoyed the drumming on this track, it stood out more than on the rest of the album and was a bit more inventive, and gave the middle of the song with the chugging riff a really nice touch.
The final track was also the perfect ending to the album. I wasn't really expecting a fully instrumental track, but I was very happy with it. The artist really has a gift for these ambient parts. This song was the perfect closer for the album, creating a creepy vibe with various effects that finishes off and reaffirms what has happened throughout the course of the album. All things considered, this was probably my second favorite track on the album.
To conclude, this album really puts across everything that funeral doom/death metal is all about, and it does it with finesse and emotion. This album would be a great way for a fan of doom/death who has never heard or never gotten into funeral doom to bridge the gap between those two genres, or for someone simply looking to hear some beautifully composed heart felt funeral doom. Fans of Shape of Despair, Skepticism, Evoken, or Until Death Overtakes Me should find exactly what they're looking for with Reclusiam.