Review Summary: Slumber’s chimera.
In 2004 there was a sudden rumble in the death/doom metal scene. But Slumber
had been around for almost half a decade before surfacing the behemoth which was to become one of the most praised albums in the death/doom metal underground scene. Fallout
was not without its flaws but stood proudly nevertheless beside classics like Katatonia’s Brave Murdey Day
and Rapture’s Futile
– showcasing masterfully executed doom/death at its very finest which together with its combo of atmospheric, dreamlike qualities and great songwriting made up for what it lacked in variety and originality. Accompanied by an assortment of keyboard effects, orchestrations and choirs on standout tracks like Conflict
, A Wanderer’s Star
, the music although at times disputably one-dimensional added soul and character in otherwise quite bland soundscapes and structure. But that's what you get with bleak doom/death metal which you won't mind being served if you're already into that kind of music.
In the beginning of 2011 after several years of fans patiently waiting for a follow up to the doom metal sensation; news of the band ridding themselves of their previous genre by applying Slumber
to the true meaning of its name surfaced on the internet and that the band that once was were working on an entirely new project with a brand new approach, dubbed Atoma
. Now the eight year old wait has finally come to an end and the phoenix decorating the album cover is ever so symbolic as Skylight
at last ascends to the surface of the earth. I’m sure we can both feel it rumbling at this very moment.
As I and probably many with me predicted; Skylight
is not unlike its twin. In fact, what essentially separates them is nothing but a fine, thin line of mere genre specifications. Where Fallout
was bleak and distressing, Skylight
shines with ethereal, warm and adventurous qualities once again offering a diverse selection of keyboard samples and overall more varied song structure. But the core of the songs themselves is definitely akin to the structure as that on Fallout
. This time they’re just expanding that sound, dropping the death metal vocal on all but one track (leaving a void for Kalantarpour’s
beautiful clean vocals to fill), slightly altering the structure and sound production almost to the point where it could easily be confused with shoegaze and even bringing in some electronic elements.
But I've read quite a lot about this album online and I get the impression that some people tend to blow things out of proportion, seemingly regarding the effort on Skylight
as one of the most exciting and innovative in the metal scene for years to which I’m quite willing to disagree with. I've also read reviews online giving it quite silly and specious genre specifications such as “space rock” and “apocalyptic rock/metal” when it in actuality just sounds like pure post metal to me with, perhaps, a slight progressive approach. I suppose it doesn’t really matter but I’d definitely like to compare this to fairly recently emerged post metal acts such as Les Discrets
Musically, the album is in truth mostly devoid of secrets - if you’ve heard the first two tracks you can basically kind of predict where the rest of the album is going based on what you’ve just heard. What you’re getting though is strong melodies and passages that beautifully compliment each other, collectively taking the album to a place where ultimately not a lot of bands choose to go ad it very much relies on hooks within the melodies, something in which it all but fails. The samples and synth effect are tastefully and strategically placed throughout and highlights such as the title track, Highway
, Hole In The Sky
and Cloud Nine
makes for a truly great and consistent album. But again not unlike Fallout
it’s sometimes slightly one-dimensional within its own characteristics.
After listening to the album a couple of times I’m left a bit confounded still by the fact that Slumber
are actually two separate entities. Because in my opinion, Skylight
would absolutely have made a worthy follow up to Fallout
and the transition wouldn’t be awkward at all. Slumber
may be sleeping but I believe it’s wide awake within Atoma
– the core of the album is still rooted in its twin and their similarities are many. Though it goes without saying it stands proudly on its own and whether it sounds like Fallout
or not, this is a truly great album with mere minor flaws that are ultimately shaded by the adventurous new characteristics which in the end makes for an exciting, honest and very enjoyable listening experience.