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Skull Full of Coffinworms - 75%

Wilytank, December 20th, 2015

I'll begin with an announcement to the music industry: stop naming albums and songs using only roman numerals to look obscure and cool looking. What is the significance behind the title IV.I.VIII? If it's supposed to be 4.1.8, why not just use the proper roman numerals for 418 (CDXVIII)? The number has no significance whatsoever. Nothing important happened on year 418, and there's no evil sounding reference to go with that number.

Anyway, Coffinworm are advertised as a blackened sludge/doom metal; but if this album is any indication, the blackened part is a bit of a misnomer. The black metal influence isn't there. For the most part, the harsh vocals are the only thing that remotely tie into that genre. Otherwise, this is a stoner doom/sludge metal album. The glaring exception would be "A Death Sentence Called Life" which is the closest the band gets to sounding like black metal, and it's right at the end of the album.

I went into this expecting something similar to Dragged Into Sunlight, and the good news for those of you doing the same is that you're not going to walk away completely disappointed. Like Dragged Into Sunlight, Coffinworm's lyrics and musical tone are rather dark. Coffinworm tend to keep their songs slow, and their performance is comparable to Dragged Into Sunlight's slower moments like on Widowmaker. Unlike Dragged Into Sunlight, the faster moments aren't nearly as in-your-face sounding, and there's a lot less of them. That's not necessarily bad though. One of the more favorable trade-offs is that it sounds a lot more organic sounding. There's less obvious use of programming which helps emphasize the stoner sound on this record, and as it goes on you can pick up a lot more noticeable influence from the likes of Neurosis, YOB, and Remission era Mastodon except much darker. Some of it even reminds me of what Gorguts and Ulcerate's slower parts would sound like with the technical wankery removed.

For what it is, it works pretty well. Coffinworm know what they want to make and I can see them refining this idea further in subsequent albums. It's not something I'd put on repeat listen and it doesn't strike me as strongly as the bands I've compared them to above, but IV.I.VIII is one of those albums you can listen to three times and occasionally revisit when you shelf if for a few months and then pick it up again to remind you what they sounded like. So, not good enough to buy at full-price but not bad enough to sell unless you're pressed for shelf space.

Shout-out to review swapee dystopia4 for Secret Satan