Review Summary: One of the most incredible and absorbing doom albums ever. Period.
Now defunct doom metal band, Warning, were a four piece hailing from the United Kingdom. The band met with great critical success, quickly gaining a cult following within the doom genre, releasing merely two albums in their fifteen year career. One of these albums would go on to become an instant classic, receiving indelible amounts of praise. Said album, "Watching From a Distance," is a deeply confessional story of love and loss. This is a rare occurrence where the underlying concept is actually crucial towards the album's success. Everything plays so perfectly with the deeply depressing and emotionally gut wrenching narrative, that it simply cannot be ignored.
"Watching From a Distance" is a beast of an album, both in terms of depth and breadth. Thematically and musically, the album is incredibly absorbing, making for an all around immense piece of work. The guitars are dense, the drums are heavy, and the vocals are completely evocative. The band works as a whole, not as separate instruments, making the band seemingly work like an ever evolving organism. Everything works together perfectly, making a really cohesive and solid sound. The guitars are tuned rather low, and churn, rather than "shred." This helps things move rather slowly, which in this case is great. The slower tempo creates a gloomy and depressing atmosphere, and allows for a very provocative tone to permeate the record.
Don't let the mere five songs fool you, "Watching From a Distance" is truly massive album. Each song is fairly large in length, with the shortest being seven and a half minutes. Each song rolls along, moving slowing but with an unmatched sense of power, heaviness, and urgency. The title track opens with an incredible guitar section, both dense and completely contained. But not to be outdone, the drums perform rather impressively as well. The same intensity found here is blanketed across the record's entirety. Drums crash, guitars reverberate with moody precision, and the vocals are as depressing as they are wonderful. Patrick Walker is impressive to say the least. His clean vocals and lyrical eloquence are perhaps the album's greatest strength. It's moody atmosphere is only solidified by Walker's aching performance, and his lyrically mastery. The emotion is as palpable as it is gut-wrenching. At times the writing may seem a tad bit forced, or even cheesy, as is the case for "Footprints," but moments like these are sparse and forgivable.
Some may be turned off by Warning's sound. "Watching From a Distance" really does have some grower potentially, as it may take several listens for one to discern between songs. The slow tempos and thick atmosphere can definitely make things muddled and homogeneous, but after a few spins of the disc, the songs really do become completely unique from one another.
Yet with these small complaints aside, Warning have clearly crafted a masterpiece. "Watching From a Distance" works like a living, breathing organism, where each aspect is vital to the "life" of the album. Those who experience it will have a difficult time forgetting it.