There’s a place in my heart that’s formed in the shape of SubRosa. That kind of ethereal, melodramatic doom, accompanied by a violin, is a rarity these days and with the band’s dissolution, I am left wanting. However, I am also fully cognizant that any music, and that style of doom metal in particular, has its short-comings. For doom, it’s a sort of self-indulgence that tends to create repetition, masked by a cloying emphasis on the subtext, the subtle differences which repetition can create. When it works, as it does for genre greats, it’s fantastic. But, more often than not, doom needs a foreign element that can help it stay fresh and purposeful, breaking up the templates that the genre can too often fall into. Enter Weeping Sores, whose firm roots in death metal provide an unexpected but wholly successful counterpart to over-the-top, emotionally laden doom on their first full length release, False Confession.
Those death metal roots are no secret; the band is made up of Doug Moore (guitars, bass, vocals) and Steve Schwegler (drums), whose band Pyrrhon we have featured extensively on the blog. To them is added the mighty talents of one Gina Eygenhuysen, who sheds off the bass she plays for Tchornobog in favor of robust and pronounced violin. The tone and approach to the violins on the album is perhaps a good place to start. Too often are violins, in doom metal but also in metal in general, relegated to these thin and ethereal roles which are meant to serve up simple contrast to the rest of the instrumentation, detached filigree that’s more often that not simply composed an executed. Not so here; the violin parts on False Confession are intrinsic parts of the composition and overall delivery of the project. Their sound is present, powerful, and communicative with everything else happening on the album, be it vocals, drums or guitars.
This can be heard on the second track, “Songs of Embers”. Listen to how the violins, which carry the main tune of the track from the middle of the intro and onward into the first section, speak beautifully with the abrasive and corrosive vocals which follow. These vocals, accompanied by Morbid Angel flavored riffs (although opening track “Scars Whispering Secret Tongues” features that influence more prominently), become the main attraction for a while, showcasing Moore’s excellent timbre and range when operating in these low spaces. But the track, like the album, doesn’t stay in one place for long; the violins make a triumphant return, this time conversing more closely with the guitars who take on a treble heavy tone. Finally, everything coalesces together for the track’s extended outro, riffs, violins, and vocals melding together to deliver those heights of passion that doom metal dies without. This kind of busy crescendo reminds us of Inter Arma‘s The Cavern, showcasing the same kind of agility and strength of expression that characterizes that fantastic and adventurous release.
Which brings us to False Confession‘s most endearing trait: on the surface of it, we’d expect to categorize this release as “experimental” or “avantgarde”. But because all the disparate influences of this release are woven so expertly together, held steady by a firm hand and intent behind the composition, everything feels natural and very much “secure”. Of course the violins fit here, you say, not noticing how bizarre they are right at the end of “Song of Embers” and before the earth-shattering opening of “Transfiguration of Flesh Into Dream”. It just feels right somehow. This is because their tone, their place in both the composition and the production, and the overall musical passion that flows forth from this project just makes everything feel urgent, necessary, and “of its place”.
This makes False Confession exceptionally unlike doom metal, while checking off everything which makes the genre great, from epic scale to bottomless emotions. The death metal roots, the unique violin performance, the vocals, all of these conspire to break it out of the genre’s obsession with artificially imposed structure while still maintaining everything that’s great about it. False Confession feels like expression rather than a band thinking of and intending expression. Because it blends so many influences together, it never delays long enough with one template to trigger its disadvantages and pitfalls. Most of all, it feels earnest and possessed of a love for the genres from which it emerges. It defies them while paying homage, shrugs their referents off while admiring the referred, the emotion and intent behind doom and death.
Its name might say “false” but its voice screams “true”.
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False Confession releases on September 13th via the effervescent I, Voidhanger Records. You can pre-order it via the band’s Bandcamp above.