Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Witnesses : "Doom II"

This album,  would best be described as progressive doom as it is not afraid to go somewhere metal often does not venture.  There is little bong worship going on here and even less worship of Black Sabbath. Doom does not lend it self to a great deal of wanking so it does not often intersect with prog.  The side of progressive metal this album shares are winding songs  with a great deal of dynamics . Yet  it is still very heavy, there is some  \, but no real synth lines to take control of the songs. The vocals are very polished, but also soulf\and drenched in emotion. They remind me at times of Jared Leto. They soar in a way that might also put them in the same zip code as Pallbearer. Though the melodies are more pop due to the fact Kody Ternes is a session vocalist who normally does more electronica and pop. By his own admission he is more into Cold Play than metal. I think this was a smart move on the part of this project's brain child Greg Schwan. He could have hired a metal vocalist and then it would have been prone to sound like everything else.  He took a risk and it paid off.

At the end of the day I am pretty impressed with what goes down here. This is a concept album about a plague born at sea. So it is timely. It does also have a  theatrical nature of their concept finds them doing things like the creaking of the wooden ship. The riffs give the vocals space so they are not always the most crushing doom walls of fuzz. Instead they match the emotive nature of  vocals. There are a few blasts of black metal , though sans the screamed vocals.  The first of these is on the second song "I Hope Their Prayers Aren't Answered".  They generally keep a very dreary pace.  In some ways the bleak mood they maintain through out the album reminds me of the narrative found on the Murder By Death album " Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them" . Mood wise they are not playing murder country. There are huge dynamic shifts into passages that delve into spacious atmospheric drifts onto the still water. The darkness is a beautiful shade of dusk deep gray going into the title track.  By the time we get to " Who Were You Before All This" it is evident that Schwan can write a concept album with out the narrative being too cumbersome for the melodies.

The last song finds things getting heavier in a somewhat more conventional metal sense. It is a good dynamic for it to have more balls with out sacrificing any of the despairing mood in so doing. When they go into more of a chug is proves to be more powerful than if this was what they were beating you with the entire album.  I will give this album a 10 it is one of the best doom albums I have heard this year and accomplished this by not being afraid to step out of the doom metal box.

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