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Journey into depression - 77%

gasmask_colostomy, June 14th, 2018

According to Aphonic Threnody's Bandcamp page, Of Loss and Grief is "a journey into depression". I sort of want to question how many funeral doom albums are not journeys into depression, though I guess the same page confirms my feelings by adding, "In a similar way to Aphonic Threnody's previous releases, the lyrics take the listener through stages of emotional distress." Nonetheless, the band certainly sound pretty miserable for the duration.

The sound of the songs is very lush, with plenty of backing to the slow trudge of the drums, melodies spilling out from the guitars in a surprisingly clean fashion, such as the ringing clean tones of opener 'Despondency'. This song features a few breaks in the riffing to take in pensive clean interludes in which the bass emerges a little more prominently. However, the general tone is relaxed, even Roberto Mura's voice bringing just a low intensity to the drawn out growls, never sounding angry but only forlorn. A few moments towards the end of the song move into heavier riffing, but even here the resonance of atmospheric keys hovers over the sound, stripping it of rough edges.

Much of the music here will be received with open arms by fans of My Dying Bride before the deathly parts of their sound were expunged. The clarity of the guitars is a product of more modern recording techniques than early Bride material, but the same bitter growls and occasional clean vocals crop up in song after song, barring the introduction of female parts on ‘All I’ve Loved’. I don’t get the feeling that Aphonic Threnody have run that far with the sound even after two full-length albums and several other releases, so the main difference is their choice to focus on the slower parts, with barely 10% of death metal DNA and most of that coming from the vocals. The slow crush of the closing ‘A Thousand Years Sleep’ is somewhat akin to ‘The Crown of Sympathy’ from the Brits’ landmark Turn Loose the Swans opus, which should tell you that the atmospheres and sense of aching defeat are great, though it might also send a note of caution that not much has changed in 25 years.

Of the other cuts, some heavier riffing turns up for a spin on ‘Red Spirits in the Water’ (don’t mix your wine lads), marking the piece with that vaguely seafaring kind of twin-guitar melody that much slow doom possesses. Exceptional in its length is ‘Lies’, almost brushing 20 minutes of maudlin violin-augmented emotional therapy, registering parallels with Aussie crew Virgin Black, though with fewer symphonic interjections and a generally more focused sense of drama. However, individual songs don’t stand out as much as they would on a shorter album, the immersive 73 minute trip being an experience in its own right, although that is also admitting that there aren’t many memorable features of particular sections, just well-sustained general atmosphere and style.

As opposed to when I was discovering My Dying Bride and the other doom death bands of the early ‘90s, I don’t really enjoy the dragging feeling of slow doom anymore except for a few genre masterpieces. This international group have unfortunately parted ways with Mura following the release of Of Grief and Loss, so it’s tough to say if they will forge on with new members; however, I don’t feel that I will be adding this to my small rotation of terminally depressed albums, though others may find exactly what they are looking for.

-- May Diamhea's feat of 100 songs in 7 days remain unbeaten --