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Doom metal gets shot in the arm or face, not sure - 68%

Noktorn, September 11th, 2007

When you think of the term 'doom metal', what comes to your mind varies greatly from person to person. Some people are thinking of Saint Vitus, others are thinking of My Dying Bride, while still others hear Skepticism. The only REAL common denominator among those bands that's obviously apparent is slowness and a general darkness of mood/sense of depression. Myth & Symbol seems to be experimenting with the nature of that denominator by seeing what precisely you can place in a doom mold. The music here isn't quite what you'd think of as doom; it's other music forced into doom shape through slowness, groove, and dark aesthetic.

Okay, so the elements of this are generally centered around oldschool, gruff, Saint Vitus or Trouble-style doom metal with some modern stoner/psychadelic touch. Think a groovier, less haunting Kin Of Ettins. There's a certain degree of rock influence as well, particularly in the drumming (which, if not programmed, is definitely an electronic kit), but it's not overwhelming. The weird thing comes in the riffing: a lot of these riffs seem to be black, death, or even goregrind riffs, just slowed down and smoked out; there's even some ultra-distorted Unsane-style noise rock riffing at times. The guitar tone is perfect for it: it has that weirdly crumbling, bassy sound of Poland's Northland, which, combined with some of the stoner-inspired melodies and mythical/fairytale subject matter, creates quite the psychedelic listen at times.

It's more kinetic than doom at times, as well. There's actually a number of blast beats present, as well as some pretty brutal vocals at times. Combined with the sort of cruising, somewhat low-key riffing, it's a rather odd mixture. It's not purely set into anything at all: each track is pretty radically different from the others, and aside from opening track 'Jack & The Beanstalk' (which even there has a strange thrashy section at the end), none of the tracks are very traditional at all. It's an album that I find myself appreciating more in the moment than based on songs overall. When I just lay back and let myself focus on the sort of drugged-out Alice In Wonderland ambiance of this, it's pretty great. The songs overall I'm not so sure of; they seem a little unfocused, and the changes in pace and timbre seem sharper than they should be. But as for the individual moments of music here? Yes, they're very nice.

Myth & Symbol is easily one of the strangest bands I've heard recently. They've taken the model of doom metal and essentially turned it upside down with their strange implementation of atypical melodies and musical elements, and though the mixture doesn't seem perfected yet, it's a very interesting direction they're moving in. I think that the next release from these guys will show them really coming into bloom, with some of the kinks worked out of the songwriting and a greater sense of focus as a whole. Recommended for those curious as to a rather strange spin on the genre's traditions.