Review Summary: A band with a horn section that isn't Ska or sung in Spanish??? That's right, and in fact they're Doom and they're really good.
I’m constantly searching for new music in any genre that I’m into, and one of the main criteria I look for is for the bands to do something different and not just copy the accepted norm for whatever style of music they play. Thanks in part to the abundance of Doom I’ve been reading about on this site lately, I’ve kind of been in that mode of music again. With that in mind, when I found this album in the used bin yesterday I decided to buy it even though I wasn’t really sure what they played or if it was any good; I only knew the cover and song titles seemed like they could be Doom or at least Black Metal (plus they were on Candlelight Records). I am happy to report that I am not disappointed in the least, and they even managed to fall within the criteria of being different enough from the rest of the bunch to make me happy in that regard too.
Within seconds of the first song, “When Beauty Dies” (available to listen to on this page), one of their unique elements is already showcased; and those elements are Trumpets and Trombone. I didn’t believe it at first either and had to read the credits in the cover, but it’s true; they have a full time member who plays brass instruments. Most people associate horns with Ska and Mariachi music, but it works surprisingly well within the context of a Doom song, functioning mainly as the melodic element of the music. After a few moments the guitars and horns fade away, and another unique element takes its place, and that is the use of electronics. The electronics in these songs are used in a way similar to how they’re used in recent Katatonia
albums in that they’re subtle and mainly used to help create and sustain the atmosphere.
At the same time that the electronics and clean guitars come in, the vocals also come in. The vocalist starts the first song with a very deep and depressed vocal style that sounds more Bauhaus
then Type O Negative
which gives the Gothic elements of their music a more credible edge. The song continues to move back and forth between the heavier guitar and horn-driven section and the Gothic electronic section until the end when yet another element is introduced. The heavy section comes back in, as it already had a few times, but this time the vocalist has changed his style to higher pitched Black Metal vocals. As the song faded out I was hooked, only hoping that they could sustain this level of quality through the entire album… unfortunately the quality does drop in some instances.
The middle songs are all still really good for the most part, but they seem to lack the exciting dynamic of the first track. They’re generally slower with fewer shifts from loud to soft, which makes them harder to get into, but maybe they just require more time then the few days I’ve given them. In fact, a lot of the middle songs are a lot more dark and mellow then the opening song, and the vocalist tends to lean more towards the clean goth-side of things, with the Black Metal vocals only used to accentuate peaks within the songs. It works well, but I still wish they had included a few more songs similar to the opening track. One thing that does remain constant is that the brass instruments continue to carry the dark melodies of the music, while the electronics serve as an eerie backdrop.
The album closes perfectly with my favorite song from the album, “Daughter Sunday”. It is similar to the first track in that it retains the dynamics from loud to soft and makes more use of the heavier music and black metal vocals, but it goes beyond that by lasting for over nine minutes, allowing it to brood and really create a dark atmosphere. With that song still in my head, it’s hard to say anything other then it is a shame that this album is so unknown because it is really good. I can’t really see anyone that’s into the dark sounds of Doom not liking this, because the only complaint I could see coming is if they didn’t like the old-school goth vocals that are sometimes used, or if the album wasn’t consistently heavy enough for them… but neither of those things should be an issue in my opinion.