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Masterfully Composed and Passionately Performed - 90%

ThuribleOfDarkness, November 17th, 2015

It's clear from the credits alone that Litany is a special album. You don't come across many blackish doom bands with violins, three different kinds of acoustic guitar, orchestra bells, brass and a hammered dulcimer; not to mention guest appearances from members of Sabbath Assembly and Pallbearer. Dead to a Dying World's sophomore effort is, therefore, unsurprisingly difficult to classify. There's plodding, doomy guitars, ominous chanting, gorgeously interwoven violin and guitar melodies, and extended instrumental movements—yet Litany never feels incongruous the way that, say, Kayo Dot's incorporation of jazz and chamber music into black metal does. This isn't experimental music in the Deathspell Omega or even Menace Ruine sense, but it's nevertheless groundbreaking and highly original.

Considering "atmospheric" has been essentially reduced to another genre tag, it doesn't capture what Dead to a Dying World have achieved here. Litany feels carefully crafted in a way extreme metal rarely does, and perfect balance every song strikes between doom and classical elements captures the mournful spirit that bands that label themselves "atmospheric" wish they could emulate. Dead to a Dying World call their music "apocalyptic," and the musical nihilism that implies perhaps comes closest to conveying the terrible beauty of Litany's six movements.

It's difficult to evaluate the songs on Litany individually, as the album flows seamlessly from track to track. That's not say each song doesn't have a unique character—"Beneath the Loam" is a very different song from "Cicatrix"—but rather that Litany is such a holistic enterprise that to divorce any part from the musical narrative of the whole would be disservice to the band and the listener. It's an album to get lost in. Music this masterfully composed and passionately performed deserves an unbroken hour of your time.

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