Portland master's of black hearted gloom are back. The album opens with thee ritualistic pulse of "Inferno" . It lurches into a more metallic dynamic two minutes in. Lenny makes commanding declarations about a spiraling emotional state. The more death rock like croon comes in at the three and half minute mark followed by a more black metal like scowling. So right from the first song they waste no time using and array of vocal colors. Since vocals are the first thing I key in on this obviously makes me very happy...in thee grimmest manner possibly. These guys once once prove that darkness alone can make you sonically heavy. While this song creeps along at more of a doom pace, it's this darkness that would appeal to fans of black metal. Things to accelerate by the end of the song, without having to rely on blast beats.
"Dead" like several of the other songs on this album is from the cassette ep the band released on their own last year and plays more to their death rock side. The chants of suicide follow the despairing moans of the verses as Smith muses over slitting his wrists. The guitars offer some great sonic textures as the bass drive this song. They build into a more black metal passage, which once again find the band only using that genre as one shade of the darkness they color their sound with. "Devolver" is another new one. The drums build a tribal tension. There is a more sludge like oppression to the mood, that waits for an impending explosion. In stead of pouring on speed they hit you with very deliberate and powerful chugs. The next two songs are more familiar. The mood of "Void" reminds me of when my therapist told me that depression turned inwards eventually comes out as anger. "Repent" laments this pre-apocalyptic world where the rich keep getting stronger. The drumming keeps a brisk pace while dissonant stabs of guitar linger behind.
The album closes with "Hopeless". The guitar tone shifts and has a cleaner sound. There is a mix of beauty and ugly dissonance. The song is aptly named as it feels more depressing than song, though it is by no means a shade brighter than the shadows. Another great addition that takes the cassette ep and expands the world created there for this Relapse records release. The mood is very solid and opaque while not as dense or heavy in the metal sense as what we have heard from them in the past, I think it takes the two sides to this band and melds them into a cohesive presentation. I'll give this one a 9.5 and see how it sits with me for the rest of the year.