No matter how much you love the genre, you have to admit that coming across original thematic ideas within doom metal is very hard. It seems as if the images and themes from which the genre draws have calcified, leaving us with the repeating textures of smoke, candles, weed, forbearing nature, and the occult. For this reason, it’s incredibly refreshing to find a doom band that shakes off these tropes and embraces something new. Plateau Sigma is a great example of this; instead of drawing on the overused language of Nordic mythology, they tap into the Greco-Roman tradition to produce a concept-heavy album and marry it to interesting musical ideas along the way.
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Although “Palladion”, the opening track if you discount the intro, is one of the least heavy tracks on the album, it’s also one of the more interesting. The vocals should be your first point of approach; they’re not exactly your standard fare for the genre. Instead, they resemble some of Toby Driver‘s solo works, more art rock and off kilter then you might expect from a doom record. Which this very much is, as the outro for the track will certainly attest, all feedback and massive chords. The vocals work well with the contemplative guitars and slowly building groove section, leaving us very much prepared for the crescendo at the track’s end.
Later on in the album, those vocals will turn guttural and we’ll get something more recognizable to fans of the genre. But even when Plateau Sigma tread on more familiar plains, they still maintain their unique touch, not to mention their unique lyrical source material. The result is a sound which is best compared to YOB but also does things subtly different than those luminaries of doom (check out the quiet passages on “Cvltrum” for example). Plateau Sigma are very much their own band and it shines through all aspects of Rituals; the composition, the vocal approach, the lyrics and the touches around the doom instrumentation all turn this into an album well worth exploring.