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A doom classic. - 95%

SwampSlimer, September 15th, 2008

Doom, primarily death doom and funeral doom, can be a restrictive genre to work with. The recent explosion of one-man, "bedroom" bands operating through Myspace and Facebook ala all those shitty black metal bands, along with most bands inability to write songs that aren't so monotonous and repetitive that they make you fall asleep (I'm looking at you, Stijn Van Cauter - if only all your bands were as good as UDOM...) results in sometimes really having to dig deep to find the good stuff.

After 1998's Embrace the Emptiness, Evoken returned in 2001 with their sophomore effort Quietus. This album manages to make it's predecessor sound almost tame; as great as Embrace was, it was really only a prelude to this. To begin with, the tempo has been slowed down considerably, giving a more sorrowful, funeral doom feel, as opposed to Embrace, which was primarily a death doom effort.

One of the first things that may strike you is that Evoken are really terrific songwriters. To be honest, even though this is strict death/funeral doom, Evoken don't really sound like Thergothon or Skepticism or Tyranny or Ahab (all great bands) and manage to acquire a sound all of their own. One of the problems with this kind of music is that most of the bands adhere so strictly to the genre's conventions that eventually it all becomes very samey and monotonous. Not so with Evoken; every song here possesses a unique atmosphere and feel and has a very definite feeling of going somewhere, of having direction. The only exception are the last two songs, which, although still good, tend to meander a little.

There is such an extraordinary feeling of hate and sorrow present here that I was really quite taken aback the first time I heard the album, perhaps best exemplified by, appropriately enough, Tending the Dire Hatred and the title track, the former with an absolutely thick, dense, tar-black atmosphere of hate, and the latter, whose lyrics and sparingly used clean vocals really give the impression of mourning at a funeral.

The production has been improved from the previous album, to the benefit of the music - THIS is how doom should sound. Crystal clear, and also there is a lot of echo/reverb, giving an effect of being recorded in a dark, desolate cavern. It really feels like you are being slowly crushed by the sheer weight of it. However, the volume is slightly low, so you'll have to turn up your speakers a little to get the full effect.

John Paradiso's vocals are great; his growls are amazingly deep, although surprisingly articulate. He also uses some agonizing screams that most black metal bands only wish they could possess. His cleans are great too (although they aren't really singing in the traditional sense, more of a spoken chant) and thankfully, they aren't overused.

This being doom, the guitars do nothing too showy or technical, but this album doesn't need it. They sound absolutely crushing - this is the only work I can use to describe them. The drums are played really well; Vince Verkay is indeed an underrated drummer in the doom genre. He uses fills and double bass work which is comparatively rare in funeral doom, and this helps to give the album it's varied feel. The bass isn't really special - it's there and does what needs to be done.

Evoken succeeded this album with Antithesis of Light and A Caress of the Void, in 2005 and 2007, respectively. They are both great albums, but they can't match this. If you call yourself a fan of doom and don't own this album, you have my pity. If you call yourself a fan of doom and don't like this album, well... I question your taste.