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judge a book by its' cover. - 95%

caspian, September 22nd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, 20 Buck Spin

Great cover art. Fantastic, all time cover art. It's the same dude that did Bell Witch, yeah? Well it's sweet as and luckily the music is a fair bit more interesting than Bell Witch too.

To say Stygian is the best funeral doom of the century is faint praise, but also quite true, I'm a bit of a crusty boomer who thinks the genre peaked with Stream From the Heavens and Stormcrowfleet. Writing super slow stuff is easy, writing super slow stuff that is good is bloody difficult, but these guys pull it off and with aplomb.

I would hesitate to say it's lush, more so that these guys musta did a PhD in layering, keyboard coming in and plinking away, subtle synths, big ol choirs, big guitars, little guitars. Minor key melancholy for the most part, with the first track being a bit more chromatic and unfriendly. That huge, grab-a-beer-between-snare-hits drum sound that we all know and love is here. The not really all that interesting rhythm guitar which Skepticism kinda cursed the genre with is here too, but there's enough stuff going on around it (like Skepticism) where it doesn't really matter. There's the tendency for some neat leads as well, and I'm quite enamoured with the lyrical, vaguely-classic-rockish flavour that some of them have. Imagine November Rain but Slash is playing guitar outside of a funeral instead of a wedding, and you're maybe a quarter of the way.

You can probably talk a bit about the use of reverb as an instrument here; especially in the breaks within songs where things approach a very well sculpted ambient/drone kinda sound. Man. It all sounds as vast and desolate as the cover art, this huge, spacey thing, the overall sound being utterly massive and more immersive than a baptism pool. Immersion is a bit like atmosphere, impossibly to quantify and incredibly subjective but oh well, here it succeeds, for me anyway. It's probably helped by the well crafted narrative flow of the songs which keep you fairly enthralled throughout.

Look, it's extremely good and I just hope that the cover art is on sale as a t-shirt. Feel like this will be seen as an all time classic in the years to come. Check it out so you can say you were there when it happened.