Norway is literally one of the very few musical regions of Europe that has not secured a big name in the doom metal scene, so when Syrach debuted back in 1996 with Silent Seas, a reasonably enjoyable but fairly generic record, why did they not continue? Regardless if it was due to intense band development or endless line-up alterations, after 10 years of absence Syrach has been reborn via Days Of Wrath, a fiery doom metal record with an evil, yet conscious groove.
With influences ranging from all over the doom world sans symphonic, there’s plenty here for one to draw from, whether it be Semper Ardens’ hard melodic pulsations suggestive of October Tide, A Death Tear’s atmospheric, yet riff-laden aggression of My Dying Bride, or the downright evil tone of the whole record more or less absent since Candlemass’ glory days. Forgive all the comparisions, for Syrach’s 10 years well spent has found them redeeming individuality. Their compositions are demanding, and because of the rock n’ roll influences some areas of the album come across as really coherent jam sessions. Plus, while most doom records have to start out all serious, quiet, and introspective, Are You Able To Breathe Fire begins instantly with thunderous low grows and double bass. In fact, Syrach only takes their time developing a song during The Firm Grip Of Death, a 14-minute trek that mixes funeral influences with well-arranged melodic passages.
Another interesting concept the band undertook was having four guest singers: Silje Wegeland, Gruntle Kjellson, Yoko Homo, and Bjornar Nilsen. Yes, four guest female vocalists, and because they are intentionally spread out through the album, they consistently breathe a fresh flame to the sound. Possibly the most significant instant of this is on the closer The Twilight Enigma. Easily the heaviest track on the record (and possibly the best), the middle section features the song collapsing into quiet, clean arpeggios with soulful, falsetto female vocals in accompaniment. They are also featured later on during the heavier sections, adding a new dynamic to that specific sound.
Needless to say, this is an exceptional release, but not without its share of hindrances…mainly two. Firstly, the growled vocals are completely one dimensional. Whether or not that was a conscious decision is unknown but personally there were multiple instances where some higher screams or even dual vocals would have made a much stronger impact. Secondly, other than the clean sections, the sound across the record is virtually at one level. Dynamics are a good thing in doom and elsewhere, especially when you’re dealing with how certain passages come across. Though, the band is planning a July release for their next album, and it’s evident from this record that they are trying quite hard to improve as a band, but even so Days Of Wrath is a rather fun doom record you can listen to anytime to spur the demons inside.