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Anguish - Mountain - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, December 3rd, 2014

As far as straight-up doom metal goes, the 2012 debut LP "Through the Archdemon’s Head" from Swedish mob Anguish made a very fine attempt at everything my Candlemass-loving heart could wish to hear in the modern age. Slow, dirty and replete with riffs ringing (the bells of Acheron) seemingly on and on, only the absence of a great clean vocal presence holds me back from referring to it as a modern day classic in the manner I do Procession’s untouchable "To Reap Heavens Apart". Two years down the line and the philosophy is still broadly similar but despite moments of promise, "Mountain" does not scale the heights of it’s more clinical predecessor yet it retains a guarantee of excitement for existing fans of the band.

After the echoing introductory piece which bears the albums name, the first of a seemingly endless array of classic doom riffs opens up "Markarian Furnace”. At the point vocalist J. Dee opens his gravelly throat the band are in full stride and proceed in this manner throughout the song’s 7 minutes, an average track duration on the album, morphing through a collection of riffs varying in tempo and overall feel; it hardly matters that the band pick up a little speed in the middle moments as the negativity of each riff forever weighs down any optimistic hope that should ever exist. "Stir Up the Demon" has emerged as my favourite track of the eight, but only in part due to the pounding riffs that leads through into an omniscient chorus, as the repeated vocal lines of "I murdered him!" are both wonderfully evocative and disconcerting to hear in such a form. I can only assume the prose is fictional…

Through the middle periods of the album however the ascent up "Mountain" begins to get steeper. "Master of Peak’s Fall" and the shorter "Decomposer of Planets" lack the memorability of debut album tracks like "Dawn of Doom" and "Lair of the Gods" for the simple reason of less engaging riffs and comparatively reduced effect of additional features like the hammond organ sounding keys. Though subtle in their use they aid "The Woven Shield" and "Void”, with the latter coming out of a brief bass ’solo’ with a fiery conviction and Dee plaintive cries of "I’m all alone!" ringing through the cold wintry Scandinavian landscape creating by the sweeping riffs.

Closing track "Snowhammer" accurately sums up the album as a whole: broad in scope, immeasurably punchy and easily digestible for fans of the genre. It also hosts the weakest moments of the album’s production; the staccato hi-hat smashes sound clipped and processed, an unusual contrast to the overall gritty nature of Anguish’s performance. Hopefully this is simply a by-product of my lowly mp3 version. The lack of emotional depth in comparison to the recent works of fellow Swedes Procession and Below could as much work in the favour of Anguish, with the arduous slog of "Mountain" opening up quickly and without remorse, providing admirable views for all.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net