I don’t think I’m saying anything anyone doesn’t know with this, but music truly is an art form. We forget that sometimes when we’re listening to top 40 radio or going to a concert. To be fair, a lot of music can seem like it’s made from a cookie cutter recipe. Write an intro/verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus pattern, maybe put in a guitar solo or instrumental section, and there’s a song. So when you hear something that doesn’t follow that formula, it’s a great way to shake yourself up and attack all of your own assumptions about how music is made.
If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in that rut of just consuming the same music, take a look at Slow, Belgium’s funeral doom duo. For just over a decade, Slow has been creating an interestingly atmospheric version of funeral doom. These tracks are more than just songs. They’re organized soundscapes that truly elicit emotions. They’re very drawn out tracks that plod through their scenes in order to let the feelings develop, reach catharsis, and relax again only to do it over again on the next track. You really don’t hear this kind of songwriting often enough to remind you that you’re not just creating songs in order to sell something. Some artists write songs to express themselves and emotions they’re feeling.
Their latest record, IV: Mythologiae, is actually more of a rerelease. The first version came out in April 2015, but this new record has taken those songs, rerecorded and remixed them and even includes a new final track, “The Break of Dawn”. By and large, the songs remain relatively unchanged in terms of structure. However, there’s a fullness and presence to these tracks on this latest edition that weren’t there before. The synths sound so much richer and deeper here in a way that envelopes you that wasn’t there before. These tracks reflect the album cover. They emerge from a foggy distance, present yet still distant.
Since much of this album has already been out there before, the new track is the thing to focus on. “The Break of Dawn” as the closing track feels much like the end of the arduous night in a horror movie. The sun is rising in the distance. The survivors see their daylight sanctuary and are both relieved by the end but troubled under the surface. The song reflects that sensation. There is the joyous rise of a lone acoustic piano that is soon accompanied by the bubbling darkness of distorted vocals and atmospheric guitars with the crashing waves of drums and cymbals. This rising and falling riff drones on through the track in a way to remind you that sometimes you don’t get the happy catharsis you think you need. Sometimes you have to sit in your thoughts.
This record is truly something you have to experience. It’s not something you can have in the background. You need to focus on it. You have to let it consume you entirely. It requires your full attention so you can experience it all. Funeral doom bands, especially of the more atmospheric variety like Slow, are like a fine red wine. You have to let it breathe and sip it slowly to really savor all parts of it. IV: Mythologiae must be savored to experience. Get your nice headphones and bring your appetite.