Saturday, September 23, 2017

Usnea: "Portals Into Futility"

I have just resigned my self as a fan of doom the days of expecting the opening song to not be at least 12 minutes is over. Once I get over that fact I can enjoy how thick the sound of despair this band is churning out. The drummer is a monster is not in a doom band just because he can't play any faster, he plays around the hesitant riffs with a flurry of fills that still serves the song. The balance the beauty and brutality well with oppressive atmosphere on " the lathe of heaven" . The vocals are largely choked screams that sound like they are coming from a chick or teenage boy, there are lower sung vocals peppered about to give it a more Atriarch feel. I like how they build things up without going to obvious way with them.

There are lowered death metal like growls to "Demon Haunted World" ,but  aside from a few guitar melodies I am not feeling this song as heavilly as I was the first two. The offer some syncopated pounding to try to change my mind and it doesn't since my rule is cool riffs alone do not make a good song. I would not say this is a bad song it just doesn't live up to what these guys have shown me they can do. I am half way into "Pyrrhic Victory" before I realize I am not just listening to the previous song which has moved into a much more melodic place. The guitar lines become very captivating.

At nineteen minutes I am expecting it to become tedious, but so far after building out of a creeping unease " a Crown of Desolation"  is an interesting call and response between chanted sung vocals and screamed. This exchange goes on for almost seven minutes before building up into another movement that dies down into more emptiness. The singing takes a larger role almost becoming a gothy ballad at the thirteen and a half minute mark. I like the depressing hollowness the chords ring out with here, before exploding back out into a more black metal flavored part. Overall this album is pretty satisfying, I will give a few more listens I am not sure if it will make it over into my iPod or how many spins I'll get after this. I enjoyed the songwriting and craftsmanship and think this creates a mood most fans of doom will enjoy so rounding it up to a 9. Out on Relapse Records.

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