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Alone and Tormented - 100%

Soylent_Groan, April 3rd, 2008

The way I see it, there are two types of depression. The first is real depression - a serious mental problem, characterised by despair, disinterest in enjoyment, obsession with death, etc., usually caused by fucked up shit happening to you. It's not a good thing.

The second is self-imposed depression. Strong feelings of despondency, lethargy, a thick pall of gloom hanging over you. It makes you want to curl up under warm blankets and withdraw into yourself, and it feels absolutely wonderful. You revel in the darkness of your own melodrama. It shouldn't be indulged in too often, of course - it can be addictive. This depression can be brought on entirely by the imagination, though music can help; some albums are perfect for setting the mood for a bit of melodramatic self-indulgence.

Watching From A Distance is one of those albums. Within this CD you will find five of the most heart-wrenchingly sad love songs ever written. Each of them is essentially the same story - a man pouring out his soul in lament because he cannot be with the one he loves. It can almost be considered a concept album, though not the cheesy kind with characters and stories. Consider each song the product of a broken man sitting alone each night, writing out his feelings in order to cope with them better.

This goes a long way towards explaining the lyrical style, too. Even in a lot of doom, lyrics tend to be constrained by the rhythm of the song, and have to fit into a set meter. This tends to limit lyrical expression, because, to keep it coherent, each line is usually self-contained, separate from all the others. Not so here. Each verse is written as a continued piece of prose, because the music is slow enough to allow each syllable to be emphasised individually. If they weren't sung so beautifully, they would sound like spoken word performances. As far as choruses go, on the rare occasion one does appear, it is limited to a single line which recurs through the song ("I wish you were here with me tonight" from "Bridges" being the prime example).

As for the music, it's difficult to listen to it in enough depth to get a feel for how good the musicians are. As soon as I start listening, I get sucked into that warm, personal void of self-imposed depression. The music is undoubtedly great, though - heavily distorted guitars playing beautifully harmonious melodies, slow enough to emphasise every note, and occasionally breaking into clean tones to soar above the warm, fuzzy, but ultimately clear production. The bass is almost lost within said production, which usually annoys me, but it doesn't seem to bother me here. The drumming is my favourite type of drumming for doom - the bass drum keeps the slow beat, while the toms and the cymbals fill in the gaps.

The vocals might present a bit of an issue for some. The singer has a strong, powerful voice, and hits all the notes, but his style is somewhat nasal, which I expect would bother some people. It doesn't present a problem for me. He pours so much emotion into his lyrics that it wouldn't surprise me to discover that they were based on his personal experiences. Perhaps they were, I don't know.

Album highlights? There are really none to speak of. The album runs together flawlessly, leaving little room for ups and downs. It's definitely an album to be listened to in full, rather than picking one or two songs and putting them on repeat. Some, I expect, would find it boring, seeing as there's little variation in sound between songs, but it works for me. It's background music for deep reflection and wallowing in self-pity, music by which to stare out the window on a rainy day, drinking tea liberally laced with whisky. I'd recommend it to any doom fan, and anyone sick of the connotations of emotional music being characterised by angsty teenagers wearing too much mascara.