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Bland and pointless - 17%

Noktorn, October 30th, 2009

Example number one of how the doom scene will tolerate anything, no matter how bland it is: Loss. I'm trying to imagine the sort of world where this is somehow considered remarkable music, an I'm absolutely failing. Loss is a phenomenal example of how overly permissive the metal scene has become regarding doom, allowing even the most mediocre artists to not just slide, but enjoy an incredible amount of praise at the hands of people who either don't know any better or don't care enough to discern between bands like this one and actually decent artists.

Loss plays a particularly droning and bland style of doom/death which falls somewhere between My Dying Bride and Winter and manages to interest fans of neither of those artists. In pursuit of a mood that's both misanthropic like the more extreme death/doom artists and romantic like the more popular ones, Loss had crafted something remarkable only in its utter unremarkability, and unique in how dumb the whole idea of it is. Even for doom this is painfully still music; everything moves at an achingly slow pace (though not really tempo), with tiny motions in guitars intended to communicate vast emotional changes but just make one impatient and wondering where all the music has gone. The music is sparse and seems to be carrying itself more like funeral doom than death/doom, but sparseness alone doesn't equal artistry; the few things that happen to exist need to be pretty fucking impressive on their own for the whole thing to work out.

All the riffs are bland derivations of funeral doom leads (aka pick notes slowly) or some shuffling, uninteresting chord work which does nothing to propel the music forward. The drummer seems to be aching for the music to do more; when things are even slightly more active, he's all over the place, trying to give the music some of the richness that the guitars refuse to grant, but this just ends up making the music paradoxically cluttered where it should be minimal and minimal where it should be, if not cluttered, at least a little more active. The vocals are a low, funereal growl ala Skepticism, but they're tonally static and don't really contribute anything to the songs themselves.

For some reason impossible for me to discern, Deathgasm Records decided to re-release this on pro CD with a pair of bonus live tracks: a cover of Katatonia's 'Brave' sung by black metal fatty of the century Lord Imperial of Krieg, and a live version of 'The Barebacked Burial Of A Broken Angel'. The former isn't exactly spectacular; already a cloying rock track masquerading as extreme metal, it's made worse through a very choppy guitar performance that drops notes like breadcrumbs for the listener to follow. The latter track seems to be a full-fledged attempt at death metal which manages to be as still and boring as the doom songs. As you can expect, these bonus tracks make this precisely zero percent more worth owning.

I actually find this vaguely offensive simply due to how overwhelmingly lazy this music manages to be; I can't fathom why people find this stuff interesting or even how the band released this thinking that people would be interested. Maybe I'm completely out of the loop and failing to see the natural appeal of this music, but overall I can't see 'Life Without Hope...Death Without Reason' as anything more than an absolute exercise in tedium and poor songwriting. You can very easily skip this.

One of Doom's Crowning Achievements - 99%

Confessor, October 29th, 2009

Here we have it. Within these two tracks are my favourite pieces of doom ever laid down on tape, beating Trouble, Disembowelment, Confessor and countless more. In fact, without hyperbole this some of my favourite music period. Yes, on a demo. Morbid, suicidal, bleak, depressing - lets get all these adjectives out of the way so we can get onto the absolute perfection that is this release.

For a start, most people shy away from demos because of the production. This, is the least of your worries here as this "demo" has production which most 80s band would have loved. Not that it's an overproduced whore however, here everything sits at a nice level and the bass is quite audible which comes in handy when it is used for more melodious sections. Only two tracks you say? Skip past the forgettable but perfectly named "Coffin Nails (Intromancy)" and you'll see there's a good 17 minutes of pure doom on what should have been Loss's first EP (even more if you get the reissue).

The music here is often described as death/doom, but to me edges much closer to funeral doom. With the desolate nature of a band like Thergothon (minus the keyboards), Loss have added perfectly guttural vocals which are forced out slowly over the funereal guitar tones. Rather than sounding particularly malevolent or deranged, the vocals echo sorrow and depression - an otherworldly inward reflection of a vocalist examining the emptiness when you have been eaten by nihilism, left without hope. The drums are well played, and feel learned in the realms of doom. Reminding me of Burning Witch's minimalist approach to doom drumming, you'll hear no Disembowelment like blasting or even a bare rise in tempo. However have no worries if are bored by drone music. Loss not even close to a drone band - all slow sections found on this release (which would be the whole thing if you are paying attention) are truly funeral doom infused.

The highlight however is the genius way the riffs have been constructed. While so many boring sludge/doom and death/doom bands creep past with the same overdone Sabbath rehashes, Loss are an inherently neoclassical band. Built from contrapuntal guitar techniques and backed with a melodic bass mentality the minor elements of the music are elevated perfectly by the production. Everything crawls to a halt and sits around in the air, the reek of a morose fortitude not to die hanging in the air. Both tracks are perfectly weighted and retain the same qualities; "Conceptual Funeralism Unto The Final Act" builds the demo up to a mid point with more complex guitar interplay, and "Cut Up, Depressed And Alone" bringing it back down, smashing through the floor of depression to meet death. The second track in particular brings out Loss's clever ability to hide descending riffs in repetition, absolute grief resonating through each harmony. Take not, this band is aptly named.

"All that's left is loneliness, there's nothing left to feel."

Loss - Life Without Hope...Death Without Reason - 90%

Phuling, April 23rd, 2008

Dear mother of god, this is a dark, unholy and sombre output of stark, suicidal funeral doom metal. Worship’s one of my favourite doom metal acts, and taking the absolute brutality they created and adding the melody from funeral doom gods Thergothon, or maybe even Mourning Beloveth, will give you a pretty good idea of what Loss sound like.

Slow, powerful drumming combined with sad riffs and worn-out growls is a recipe for success in my book. And these guys pull it off with excellence. This is no everyday run-in-the-mill doom metal – this is a seriously depraved soundtrack to a suicide. An entire life of depression, abuse and failures turned into music and jammed into one CD. The melodic, yet oh-so-depressive riffs could easily make a guy weep, ‘cause it has such an atmosphere of pure grief to it. And when you add deep and slow growling giving you lyrical bits such as "a shadowed figure, a lone failure, […] a fool to decay in ever-cold and wounds as deep as any burial and sorrow deeper than any wound"… I’m in lost of words. It’s just fucking awesome!

This is a re-release of Loss’ demo, with the same title, originally released on the Japanese label Weird Truth, with two bonus live tracks. First of ‘em being a cover of Katatonia’s Brave, with Imperial from Krieg on vocals, and the second one’s a Loss track showing a more brutal and death metal like doom metal than on the rest of the CD. But then again it’s a live track, maybe the sound does it injustice. What I do know is that this album kicks some major arse!

Originally written for

Conceptual Funeralism Unto The Reissue. - 90%

Evil_Obsidian, March 15th, 2007

Loss are a quartet hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, however, you won’t find a single note of country music on this disc. What you will encounter instead is monolithic and impressive Funeral Doom/Death, forgoing the usually tiresome swathes of synths for a more organic, metal approach. It’s a pity that this approach tends to be the exception to the rule nowdays, but that makes Loss stand our from the crowd, and makes their music all-the-more impressive.

This particular release is actually a re-release of Loss’ 2004 three-track demo, which was self-released by the band as a cd-r, plus two bonus tracks. It beggers belief that music of such a high standard could have remained unheard for the most part had Deathgasm Records not stepped in to make this more widely available. It goes to show how vital and exciting the underground really is, and makes the tracking down of such hidden gems a truly worthwhile pursuit.

The disc opens with the obligatory intro, “Coffin Nails (Intromancy)”, which is just shy of the two minute mark and consists mainly of feedback and drones, with the occasional muffled scream. This sets the tone perfectly for what is to come, yet gives little indication of the style Loss purvey.

The first proper song “Conceptual Funeralism Unto The Final Act (Of Being)” is eight minutes long, but feels more like half that. The guitars are lacking the crunch one would expect, but the riffs they churn out are perfectly showcased by the warm, analogue sound, which allows every note space to breathe. This is important as the guitars rely more on single note melodies than powerchords, often played in harmony, to get their message across. The vocals are exclusively limited to deep growls, which some may consider monotonous, but I feel are well suited and provide an effective counterpoint to the melodies swirling around them. As is often the case with this style of music, the rhythm section is subdued, and plays no greater role than to keep time.

Next up is “Cut-up, Depressed and Alone”, which clocks in at just over 9-and-a-half minutes. It follows in the same vein, kicking things off with a long, drawn out riff invoking both anguish, yet bizarrely also hope, which eventually dies away to a breakdown of clean guitars, before getting heavier again. Subtle changes to the riffs keep the atmosphere forlorn at all times, but the pace never picks up pace beyond a crawl. The song fades out with a subtle bass interlude and is over far too quickly.

This release has two bonus tracks recorded live at The End in their hometown, on the 11th of June 2004. The first of these is a cover version of Katatonia’s “Brave”, a highlight from that bands distinguished career to date, and a tune that you all ought to be familiar with. Vocals on this version are handled by Lord Imperial of Krieg fame. The song is performed competently and with sensitivity to the original, and the sound is of a decent quality.

A live version of “The Barebacked Burial Of A Torn Angel” which can be found in its original form on the split with Necros Christos rounds off this mini-album, and marks the weakest moment on here. The track is newer than those it follows, which doesn’t bode well for the future. It’s not a bad track, but it’s by far the shortest and most straightforward, being more slow Death Metal than Doom. Having said that, I’m unfamiliar with the studio version, and it may be a bit harsh to judge from a live recording, especially as most bands tend to speed up somewhat in this environment.

Regardless, the live material on offer here comes across more as filler, and only serves to indicate that Loss are an entertaining live act. I’d have preferred the studio versions of “The Barebacked Burial Of A Torn Angel” and “An Ill Body Seats My Sinking Sight” from the split with Worship to have been included instead, thereby collecting all Loss’ original studio recordings on one disc.

Despite being neither the heaviest nor most extreme band around, Loss have managed to create an enjoyable work that remains melancholy throughout yet is strangely uplifting, showcasing the power of the riff and quality songwriting over the fake atmospherics often favoured by bands in this genre. In conclusion, I’d urge fans of quality music, and in particular Doom, to check Loss out.

An Excellent Demonstration. - 91%

Velkaarn, June 8th, 2006

An eerie introduction consisting of feedback noises, some kind of otherwordly, distant voices and random sounds of guitars lead into the debut demo of the US death/doom band Loss (not to be confused with their metalcore countrymates!). As the first real song kicks in from the "Intromancy" there's hardly a chance one would consider the material to be metalcore. The guitars play a wailing dirge accompanied by solemn (and audible!) bass notes and the mid-tempoed drumming. This isn't as slow a funereal pace I first thought it might be, but definitely no means fast anyway. The vocal is a guttural, drawling and melancholic sounding death growl, and very good in my opinion.

The first proper track, "Conceptual Funeralism Unto The Final Act (Of Being)" ticks a respectable 7:54 minutes and builds a wonderfully depressive atmosphere while retaining a somewhat dynamic feeling. It invokes names like old My Dying Bride, old Katatonia, old Paradise Lost, first Theatre Of Tragedy (without the female vocals) and maybe Mourning Beloveth in my mind. A great song and despite the comparisons I just did it doens't really sound like a copy of anyone.

The last song titled charmingly "Cut Up, Depressed and Alone" starts at a little slower pace, sounding very melancholic, subdued and isolated. The initial guitar work reminds me actually of some of the depressive black metal and the bass lines are still clearly audible, serving the mood in suicidal glory. The guttural voice comes in just before two minutes into song breathing out the depressive lyrics. The song reaches a moment of calm at 3:10 as the percussion temporarily stops to leave only the guitar to play out melancholic notes. The percussion and the vocals join back in at four minutes as the song continues in the same, brittle mood to have all collapse back into heaviness at five minutes. A brilliant riff leads the song back onto its grim trek. Double vocals are sparingly (twice) utilized for a good effect at this part. A greater yet song, though the part from 6:55 to 8:58 could have been shortened a little.

The demo sounds like a demo, but everything can be heard very clearly and the production only adds to the atmosphere in my mind. Much of the metal these days is overproduced, killing much of the feeling in the music. The demo has been released as a MCD with 2 additional songs and as this demo left me craving for more at least I'm going to pick it up as soon as possible. I certainly hope to hear more from these guys and have high hopes for the upcoming releases.