A thousand greetings unto thee, Heaviest of All Bloggers! Another month has passed, so another review of the slow and low is very much required. Much like last month, I’ve been thinking more and more about metal’s place in the world throughout the seasons. It’s just this recurring thought I have about it, specifically about doom metal. Last month, I thought it was the perfect addition to my road trip wanderings as I was traveling through the wide-open spaces of Wyoming and Montana. This month, I find doom’s ability to drone is very analogous to oppressive summer heat. Summer heat can seem like a poorly made doom record when the goal seems to be more about making long songs than making good songs. Especially when your apartment’s air conditioning goes out. Just a heavy weight leaning on you with no sign of relief.
However, none of the records we’re discussing today reflect such a feeling. We only discuss the best of the best on here, so let’s do what we can to beat the heat. Unlike previous months, we’ve got a wide range of sounds to discuss. We’re going from the lightest aspects all the way to the most oppressive of atmospheres, but all of it is worth your time if this is what you enjoy. Enough chattering, let’s get to the riffs!
Monotoneus – High Life
It’s not often that we can reference djent on Doomsday, but by Satan we are doing it right now! Monotoneus is a very unique atmospheric djent/doom project of excellent slow beats and solid riffs. High Life is an instrumental wonder, combining a lot of different elements into a single uniform sounds all its own. It’s records and projects like Monotoneus that really encourage you to think outside the box and challenge your own perceptions and preconceived notions of what metal is and what music can be.
The whole record is an interesting example of how elastic doom can be. You hear a little bit of a lot of stuff. There is some interesting Sunn O)))-style noise drone that’s used in a very musical way. You hear guitar tones that sound more at home on a Meshuggah record than in doom record, but it’s used so well that you can’t dismiss it. Everything is wrapped up in a nice modern doom package that has such desperate parts. It makes no sense and perfect sense at the same time. It’s great. Stop reading this. You don’t need to. Just listen to Monotoneus already.
Elder – The Gold & Silver Sessions
There are a whole lot of reasons why I love doom. But among them is the fact that doom metal, particularly the progressive side of things, can frequently sound like my beloved jam bands. It can often take me back to being in college and listening to live bootlegs all day. Such is the case for Elder and their new EP, The Gold & Silver Sessions. Yes, it’s an EP, but it’s a really fun one to listen to. It’s a collection of extended jams and spacey audio explorations. It creates some really great grooves that just scratch all those space cadet itches you might have in a way that is extremely satisfying.
What gives me that nostalgic feeling is just how loose the jams feel. They’re excellent explorations of sonic territory, providing psychedelic background noise for any kind of occasion. There’s a great feeling around each track as well. Yes, it’s doom metal, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s a dour environment. Elder’s progressive nature has meant that they can experiment in any kind of space and play with melodies and thoughts of all kind, and that’s what this 3 track, 34 minute EP is all about. It may not be a full length, but there’s enough in it to whet your appetite for their next full length in 2020.
Hex – God Has No Name
Death doom holds a special place in my heart as it embraces the slow and low while also engaging in the dirty of death metal. If it’s done right, it embraces the dour aspects of doom in the most rage-inducing way possible. Spain’s Hex has this sound down pat. God Has No Name plays with these evil sounding fuzz riffs combined with extremely harsh vocals. Bands like this can grind out some filthy stuff better than most, and Hex has certainly been doing their homework when it comes to that.
From the moment you turn this record on, you’re immediately bombarded by the atmosphere they create. “Thy Kingdom Gone” is the perfect example of death-doom. It has the plodding and hugely heavy riffs combined with the extremely boisterous yet slowly paced drums. It all blends together by the band’s incredible sense of melody. These guys are exceptionally talented at creating that oh-so-delicious atmosphere of a good death-doom record. The right combination of these elements is the straw that stirs the drink. They hit that balance well.
Their riffs and melodies combine in such an incredible way. The main riff in “Worshipping Falsehood” gives you the feeling of the slow descent on the downward spiral. The progressive shifts of “Dævangelism – The Dark Sunset” expresses the riffs in several different ways to express their understanding of all aspects of their sound. “Where Gods Shall Not Reign” is a true death metal track played at a slower pace. Hex knows what they want to do, and they’ve done their homework to make sure it’s done right.
Arctic Sleep – Kindred Spirits
And now, my super duper favorite of the month! I’ve been really looking forward to writing about Arctic Sleep and Kindred Spirits. It’s a record that embodies the idea of a modern sounding doom band. It’s incredibly atmospheric and employs recent ideas from post-metal, grunge, and prog metal. These songs are all fully fleshed ideas exploring the greatest thoughts about relationships, friendships, death, and the realms man was not meant to know. It’s deeply emotional and sets a scene that only the utterly heartless couldn’t feel.
It’s really difficult to describe in words just how well this entire record works as a whole. Not many records are really able to achieve true synergy like Kindred Spirits. The music matches the lyrics so perfectly that it’s impossible not to come up with the image of two partner spirits entwined beyond the bonds of life and death. While Keith D vocally laments the loss of his friend, a real handsome devil of a cat named Yoda, he also weaves together an atmospheric song scape that creates a philosophically mystic quality. That combination creates an emotional connection with all humanity as all of us have experienced true loss.
The entire record can be defined by experience. After 6 releases of material, Keith D was really only now ready to write this record. Not that he hasn’t always been a great talent, but you have to have many experiences writing music in order to put together something so extremely mature and expressive. This is a heavy topic for this kind of undertaking, but Arctic Sleep’s experience was ready to shape this work of art. At the same time, this is more than just a record you can simply listen to. This is an atmospheric tapestry that you must sit and experience. You can’t hope to pull everything out of this record that is demanded of you. Most importantly, I believe that this means I wish I could have experienced life with Yoda. Someone loved that cat a lot to put together Kindred Spirits. Wherever Yoda is, I think he’d be quite proud of this. I’ll be returning to this piece a lot in order to just remember these feelings.