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Melancholy and hypnotic - 79%

gasmask_colostomy, June 15th, 2018

I suppose the interesting thing about the six-piece Finnish doom metal act Fall of the Idols is that, despite all of the members having experience in other underground projects, none of them have actually spent much time playing doom metal, a subgenre which the Finnish scene is well-known for producing. This is the debut album of the band, released after nearly six years of demos, a span of time that was clearly enough for them to clear away all other playing styles from their minds, since this is traditional doom and doom only.

I’m not sure that it required six men to produce an album like this, since listing three guitarists who all play rhythm (plus two lead credits and one acoustic) is a little overdone for a style that never becomes technical, yet possesses a certain kind of stately majesty. This has a few parallels to compatriots The Wandering Midget, though it really takes its cues from older sources like Candlemass, Count Raven, and Cathedral, who led doom metal into the ‘90s without dragging any death metal traits along for the ride. The warm, broad guitar tone and regular, clumpy drums sound as if Candlemass has entered the building but didn’t bother to dress up for the occasion, rarely ornamenting the creeping riffs with anything neoclassical from the lead guitars or vocals of too outlandish a nature. Indeed, the watchword of the album is restraint, pacing steadily through long compositions of over seven minutes in most cases, Jyrki Hakomäki keeping his voice fairly low and pleasant and sometimes howling through forcefully.

Most of the songs present a very solid take on the traditional doom style, remaining serious and sorrowful throughout their lengths without speeding up almost at any moment. This gives songs like ‘Atonement for the One’ the beautiful trudging momentum that the best doom has, attaining spiritual qualities of concentration, especially when the second guitar adds higher melody to support the melancholy riffing. There are two shorter songs that break some of the rules, ‘The Grand Act’ driving the pace a little more and scattering more energetic lead work across the canvas, while ‘The Walk’ suddenly opens with soft acoustic guitars and dwells on gentle atmosphere, smudging the music with some natural samples of water and wind in the trees. There is a closing monolith called ‘The Pathway’ that spans a whopping 16 minutes, though it’s not drastically different from the other material, merely blending together more slow riffing, mournful melodies, and a few acoustic breaks.

The overall effect of The Womb of the Earth is to lull the listener into a state of calm serenity and contemplation, owing mostly to the repetitive nature of the songs and the overall running time of 65 minutes. The experience feels a good deal longer than that due to the expansive nature of this sort of slow, hypnotic music, though the potential for boredom also arises from the lack of variety that leaves the surface of the songs without ripples and as such difficult to remember in their particulars. I don’t tend to listen to much of this morose doom anymore, though I would have loved this a few years ago and played it all summer long while I wrote poetry or thought about stuff. These days, I can still see the appeal of songs like ‘Sown Are the Seeds of Doom’ and ‘Agonies Be Thy Children’, though they don’t deliver as an album as much as they promise on individual terms.

-- May Diamhea's feat of 100 reviews in 7 days remain unbeaten --