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Stunning - 95%

ScatologyDomine, July 11th, 2009

I'm not normally one to give a score so high as a 95 (in fact, it's the highest score I've ever given), particularly to an album with so little innovation or experimentation. Each track on Warning's "Watching from a Distance" is essentially the same formula: Guitar lays down a sorrowful and heavy melody, bass follows, drums keep a steady beat and Patrick Walker sings. There are no dramatic tempo changes, no backing vocals coloring the sound, no stand-out sections or impressive soloing- it's pure traditional doom metal through and through. Most musical groups going for this sound and being so true to it would lose my attention over the span of a 12-minute song. With Warning, this is not the case.

Warning's appeal lies primarily in their purity, actually. Warning plays doom metal, stripped down to its most basic form- a powerful expression of despair. The lyrics deal entirely with personal struggles, failure, longing, and the like. Patrick Walker's vocals are emotional and intimate. Unlike traditional doom bands that employ operatic vocals, Patrick Walker sings in a plain but passionate voice. Every word is believable and authentic due to Walker's inexplicable power. Listen to the section beginning at 5:18 of "Footprints" and tell me you don't get chills every single time.

The guitar has an impressively heavy quality for seeming to be comprised of only two layers. It has a tasteful amount of roar on the sustained notes, while still maintaining a light and beautiful quality on the harmonized melodies. Generally speaking the bass is unremarkable, but contributes its share to the heaviness of the guitar. While I am normally put off by bands that do not utilize the bass, I feel as if much bass-work would taint the emotional experience of Warning's music. The drums are a similar story, keeping tempo and coloring the sound with a wide array of cymbals; though Springthorpe's tom fills are sometimes a tasteful standout point without being distracting.

The album is nearly flawless, with one mis-step (which may simply be personal tastes) in the last track. "Echoes" is a bit up-tempo compared to the rest of the album, and for some reason Walker's vocals seem a bit forced. Lyrically the track is no less intimate than any other, but all in all the experience is just a bit lacking. Had this track been dropped, and perhaps "Footprints" placed after "Faces" as the closer, the album would be the perfect doom metal experience.