Melancholic Funeral Doom

Loss – Horizonless

cover-smThe second album of LossHorizonless is more melancholic and melodic than most funeral doom / death-doom bands from the US. Horizonless has gotten plenty of fine response and is destined to become Loss’s breakthrough from the funeral doom underground.

The soothing melody lines of All Grows on Tears switch fluently between sorrowful and life affirming, reminding of very melodic death-doom bands like Swallow The Sun. At times Loss broods on dark riffs and the melodies are more nihilistic serving in a supporting role. Loss doesn’t go as far as all encompassing heaviness of Evoken although the first halves of Banishment and the title track Horizonless seem to seep from same sources.

There are plenty of small sections that are not from a playbook of a layman doom band. For example the acoustic guitars in the beginning of When Death Is All, or the little jazzy bass lines that at times heighten into leads riding over the dark wave of The Joy of All Who Sorrow. I have come to know – THE JOY OF ALL WHO SORROW! Then… How about the last 20 seconds that goes black metal? It’d actually be a really fucking good ending track. Too bad Loss didn’t ask me before they released the album ;).

I first thought the album to be a stellar but not superb that has an incredibly strong starter in The Joy of All Who Sorrow. After such a great track the rest of the album feels a tad stale. Also let’s face it, When Death is All is not the epic closer a masterclass album should have. It does have a pretty outro and good elements but as an entity it sounds a bit pieced together. The rest of the 5 main tracks that clock around 10 minutes are more fluent.

The album was on hiatus from my playlist for a few months after which I decided to move The Joy of All Who Sorrow as a last track and LO! Imminent new charm skyrocketed Horizonless among the best releases of 2017. I.O. serves as a fine intro but Moved Beyond Murder‘s 2.44 of ambient humming I removed altogether. Besides these 2 there are also two other semi-intermission tracks that serve well in their place. Almost 15 minutes of intermissions is still too much. (See the bottom of the post to listen the Like Music To Your Ears version of the album).

Naught deserves a couple of special mentions. The beginning clean guitars twinkle like the stars in the cover of the album and its last 3 minutes have the most chilling and indulging vocal lines. The vocalist Mike Meacham sounds to be committing an auditory seppuku with output of pure suffering and contempt. His usual vocal style is almost comically low growling, but the moments when he ranges to high screams and clean vocals are all highlights.

I dare to say this is my favourite doom release from the US since Morgion’s criminally underknown Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth (2004).

9/10

Bandcamp: https://loss.bandcamp.com/album/horizonless
A good interview about the themes of the album: http://newnoisemagazine.com/loss-self-reliance-exceeding-horizons/

Fixed track order to maximize The Joy of All Who Sorrow:

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Monumental Funeral Doom Melancholy playlist

This compilation is based on the best bits of melancholic funeral doom bands with some more funeral bits of melodic death doom and traditional doomster(s) in the midst. The playlist continues in the vein of a previous Post-rock Melancholia playlist.

The concept of funeral doom has at least two different schools. The “original” sound with bands like Thergothon and Esoteric is very nihilistic and evil mass of sound. Skepticism has something in common with those bands but the themes often revolve around nature. The other newer school fronted by Shape of Despair is not at all about evil but of a weeping melancholy. Both schools are obviously shared by the supremely slow tempos.

This compilation has a lot of content from the melancholic funeral school which I am personally more fond of. Skepticism and Thergothon have never appealed to me even though I enjoy some bits by Evoken, who are a direct successor of the old school funeral.

1. Half Light by one man Swedish outfit Doom:VS is quite a hard-hitter but with a superbly memorable chorus and lyrics that are almost as melancholic melodic funeral doom as possible.

2. Frailty is from the doom legend Paradise Lost‘s more recent albums, Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us. A really memorable entirety. The track is perhaps a bit curious for a funeral doom collection but the weeping guitar lines in the end half are strongly reminiscent of many a track here.
I only realized the track’s true potential as I keep getting reminded of it in my work, the material I handle frequently has definitions of The Frailty Syndrome (Frailty is a common geriatric syndrome that embodies an elevated risk of catastrophic declines in health and function among older adults. Frailty is a condition associated with ageing, and it has been recognized for centuries.).

From the third track Lost & Catatonic the compilation slips into even deeper waters. It meanders effortlessly between very heavy, symphonic almost black metal bits and an extremely catchy and soft chorus. Lost & Catatonic was originally one of the tracks that triggered the biggest emotional response from Swallow The Sun‘s newest album Songs of the North 1. Later it was reported that in live setting a session guitarist would sometimes play the track instead of Juha Raivio. Understandable obviously given by the recent death of his spouse, the magnificently voiced vocalist Aleah Stanbridge.

4. Fragments by French band Remembrance is from their album Silencing the Moments (2008). Really some cliche melancholic funeral doom. It has all the basic elements from deep male growling to sparse hits, catatonic drummer, at times heavy at times extremely gentle guitars, background keyboards and angelic female vocals yet at their best they are tweaked so well it functions perfectly. Fragments is the song that has stayed with me most. I can’t think of any faults in it, its atmosphere is a real appealing slumbering mass. The hard & sparse hitting lamenting section at 5 minute mark is one of my favourites in any modern funeral doom band’s catalogue.

5. Shape of Despair is a band many of the more modern melancholic melodic funeral doom bands model after. Their second album Angels of Distress (2001) is the biggest landmark yet strangely I seem to have picked tracks from their two newer ones in my playlists. The Distant Dream of Life from Monotony Fields (2015) is nearly an absurdly short track for a funeral doom piece, clocking only 5.53 but its all tightly packed emotion. In the newest album Shape of Despair changed vocalist, and while I absolutely love Pasi Koskinen’s deep growling, the new vocalist Henri Koivula (Throes of Dawn) does a tremendous job as well.

6. Weighed Down With Sorrow by Insomnium is the best track they’ve ever made full stop. Never before or after have they gone this deep in doomish melancholy, the memorably sullen lyrics could be straight from the Finnish national epic Kalevala.

7. Her Withering Petals by The Fall of Every Season is 15 minutes long which may be a bit too much but its atmosphere stays intact and boy when the end comes, is it emotional or what. Machinae Supremacy sings about video game and action movie cliches in Player One “and in the end i’ll get the girl”. Translated into funeral doom, the same cliche is straight from the handbook of The Fall of Every Season:
This imagined warm touch was his relief.
Kneeling at her feet, ready for his sleep.
Had no longer wish to arise.
Put her arm around him, no more cries.
Slept there until the fierce cold awoke
to erase all tracks of life.