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Lower Than Low, Colder Than Cold… the Mourning - 86%

bayern, January 12th, 2018

This is one of the oldest doom metal acts on US soil, but as doom has always largely been an underground phenomenon, many heroes from this roster never saw the light of day, spending all their careers in the cold and dark caverns of the unfathomable shady side of the music industry…

It’s not that our friends here hadn’t tried to get out of this misery… they left a long trail of demos and splits until they eventually broke the thick besieging layer with the album reviewed here. And it couldn’t have been any other way since this effort is an ultra-heavy ten-ton behemoth that simply can’t be held back by whatever obstacles set on its path. The guys have settled for the traditional doom metal idea their approach in particular straddling between Saint Vitus and early Cathedral, the opening “Catacomb” steam-rolling assuredly the heavy guitars accompanied by cool hoarse, Lee Dorian-esque vocals. Brief melodic lead-driven escapades carve timid burrows on the dark morose canvas which is strengthened by “Losing My Shadow”, the next in line vintage classic doomster with both a more dynamic and a more sorrowful flair “fighting” for domination throughout.

The title-track acquires more leaden, nearly funeral-like tendencies, but the hypnotic riffs will work their magic around anyone, particularly those who left their hearts at the threshold of this mythical “Forest of Equilibrium” (Cathedral again). “Seductive Embrace” is a masterpiece of dynamic bouncy doom with a rip-roaring main motif intercepted by longer lead sections and officiant sinister semi-recitals the singer now resembling Type-O-Negative’s Pete Steele (R.I.P.). “The Fog” is a short elegiac etude, a mournful all-instrumental cut which contrasts with the more uplifting rhythm-section of “Great Bison”, a nod to early Sabbath in all its hippie-like catchiness before two short variations bring the sound back to Cathedral time and again where also “Looking Forward” belongs, a brilliant spacey cut with infectious LSD-induced riffs the delivery already stoner-infected with echoes of “Carnival Bizarre” as well. A stone cold closer is in stall afterwards, “Iceland”, an 8-min saga with a more academic, funeral-like demeanour, a not very eventful, but steady and satisfying epitaph to a very consistent doom metal instalment.

Fans of all things doom will spend days with this seismic roller-coaster while others may find it too monotonous at times. Still, its monolithic character should enchant the more tolerant as it nicely captures several nuances from the classic doom metal freighter, not adding too many new elements, but succeeding in blending them all together into one entertaining whole. Retro doom has always been about being in the cold and the dark, and about keeping a low profile, and this album here is another sure testimony of its occult, not necessarily soporific, character.