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Stoic Dissention is a Colorado based act that has been peddling their doomy brand black metal since 2010. In the spring of 2011 the band released their first EP, “Senium”, which was a collection meandering black infused doom tracks that, while decent, failed to really go anywhere. “Senium” sounded like urban decay coming through your speakers: bleak atmospheres, barren landscapes and zero population. In October of 2012, the band returned with their first full length album, the mouthful of a title, “Relinquished (A Crumbling Monument Witnessed by None)” – henceforth referred to as “Relinquished”.
Once again the band assaults your audial receptors with their gloomy brand of metal but while wearing a new disguise. Rather than the desolate landscapes of yore, “Relinquished” breathes new life into their music with a more organic, and sometimes psychedelically tinged, approach with warm tones and melodious passages strewn through their rumbling doom. Breathing life into their music… It’s an interesting idea, but the band actually starts off the album with a deep breath to usher in this new sound. Yes, it’s an actual recording of someone taking in a deep breath of air. Talking about more organic, the album’s monolithic closing track, the aptly titled “Untitled” even showcases a flute as one of the primary instruments throughout its twenty minute runtime. Even with all of this hippy talk of life breathing, organic elements, the overall presentation on “Relinquished” is still gloomy and doomy; it’s just that there’s less of a feeling of barren desolation and more of a feeling being slowly dragged under the waters into blackness. Stoic Dissention puts a much stronger focus on melodic guitar passages and a doomy yet earthen atmosphere and mixes that with crushing riffs, thick bass and heavy percussion.
“Senium” delved more into the realms of black metal, incorporating a few blastbeats and trem picked guitars, while “Relinquished” stays away from both. There are still high pitched, raspy vocals, but they are counter balanced by slow paced and crushing yet melodic doom patterns and restrained drumming. A few sections also scatter some deep, guttural vocals which add to the crushing atmosphere. The guitars do pick up some speed, notably during the middling section of “The Pernicious Anoesis”, and begin to scrape the surface of that atmospheric, Cascadian sound of Wolves in the Throne Room and the like, but the band refuses to fully commit to the black metal sound that was apparent on “Senium”. Stoic Dissention’s role reversal works for and against them. While steering clear of the black metal overtones of their debut, they more fully embrace the doom elements. The guitars are both crushing and melodic at times, utilizing both melodically tinged segues and heavy riffs depending on the given mood.
At about the seven and a half minute mark during “Fastidium Vita” the band shows their aptitude by delivering a heavy and melodic cyclical riff with a heavy hitting rhythm section before dropping the anchor into slower than slow doom. Lo and behold, this slow section builds into a melodiously organic guitar line with minimalistic percussion and slowly fading into obscurity. The drums bounce between the previously mentioned minimalistic sections into a slow, paced yet forceful and heavy hitting style that really reminds me of mid-period Neurosis, minus the tribalism, course. All of the songs, despite having their own unique elements, present themselves in a similar way. Each track starts with some type of slow burning introduction, be it the slow-paced, crushing riff at the beginning of “Untitled” or the melodic meandering of “The Pernicious Anoesis”. The band slowly adds more and more force until you expect some type of climax that never really happens. After not really climaxing and wandering around for a while on heavier sections the band slows it back down to the realms of melodic meandering. The entirety of the album can be seen as an ebb and flow of doomy heaviness and melodic wandering: back and forth; heavy and light.
“Relinquished” is an all-around improvement for Stoic Dissention, but I must admit that I’m a little disappointed that they almost completely abandoned their penchant for delving into black metal. The production is solid and crushing, while still maintaining an overall organic vibe. The instruments, while not showcasing any mind-blowing technicality, are solid and professionally presented, although the songwriting is fairly predictable. I look forward to how Stoic Dissention progresses from here, as this is good but I feel that the band could still improve their output. This is recommended to fans of the doomy blackness of Brown Jenkins and the long, winding passages of the Cascadian scene.
Originally written for The Metal Observer: