Review Summary: Terranean Wake is massive, expansive and a showcase of Worship performing at their very best.
It comes as no surprise that the arrival of Terranean Wake
has come and gone without much of a whisper. The fanbase of German funeral doom band Worship are a small group of incredibly invested and dedicated individuals that more often than not consider their material to be of funeral doom quintessence. It's not unwarranted, either. Worship have showcased so many excellent qualities throughout their career, and luckily many of those traits have lasted the 13 years since their first release. The cryptic, sorrowful lead guitars that echo beautifully over everything else, the desolation that they effortlessly create and the subtleties that can take several listens to decipher give such a sense of reward to Worship's unforgivably crushing sound - much of the brilliance beneath the surface. It took me a long time to really appreciate what Worship did so well, but when it clicks you find yourself with such an appreciation for it, filling a void that many funeral doom bands just don't reach or even attempt to approach.
Both albums prior to this one, Last CD/Vinyl/Tape Before Doomsday
feature performances from Worship's founder, '***ed Up' Mad Max, despite Max's suicide 6 years prior to the release of Dooom
, making the experience much more haunting and cryptic. This is the first release the band has had without any prescence of Max, or at least his performances, as the band still performs directly in his honour. There are obvious stylistic differences between this and the two albums preceding it, which may leave some fans divided, but one must admit that if they strived for the exact same goals as the two preceding albums they might have set themselves up for a complete failure.
The biggest difference may be noticed immediately; the production is far clearer, which suits the album perfectly as the emphasis has shifted more towards a gigantic, huge atmosphere rather than the depressive and introverted themes of Dooom
. Not that they've disappeared altogether but it's enough to distance this as a very different beast than that. Worship pull it off wonderfully though, utilizing many of their brilliant sounds and subtleties to great effect, showing the 5 year wait between albums was spent very well, letting the ideas mature. There is an incredible weight and depth to the sound that marries so perfectly with the airy, massive soundscape it manages to pull off at the same time, a very difficult balance to achieve.
The vocalist that now takes the permanent helm, The Doommonger, does a fantastic job of picking up where Max left off. It's true that The Doommonger had a huge presence in Dooom
, steering along the majority of the tracks, but as the first record without Max he truly shines here. His growls are emotive and uneasing, an oddly understated display that rumble beneath the doom in a way that not only compliments everything else but makes some of the key memorable parts of the album. Many of the lead guitars resonate so beautifully that it's difficult to not be completely enthralled and immersed, too. Reminiscent of the leadwork in Ahab's debut album, though obviously with less of a nautical hue. Though Worship have been doing this for much longer than them the similarities are still worth a mention, especially since Worship do it at such a quality that few achieve. Their sounds are simplistic at the core but are utilized so well that few can compete.
The subtle way the album shifts is impressive, too - the mood slowly shifting from a heavy, frightening tone to a more familiar, sorrowful and introspective display of slow-moving, heavy dirges. Mid way through opener, Tide of Terminus, the sound is absolutely monstrous - a thick, punishing combination of huge crushing chords and growling vocals with huge crashing drums, understated as they are effective. The occasional clash of church bells are very effective in making every wave of sound hit with much more potency, the piece flowing very similarly to the tide it got its title from. Worship also very much understand dynamics, without quiet there is no loud, often having very long and strung out quiet passages with uneasing and desolate clean guitars and occasional clean vocals that sound like a sullen, hopeless choir before throwing you right back in. The drums, slow and utilized as effectively as possible manage to be striking every single crash - though it's worth mentioning that the snare sound is very distracting and strange, like a tinny, hollow crash with little depth. It's easy to get over but it is a strange production decision regardless.
Every track here has its differences that open up the more you listen - the final track being the slowest and most sullen of the four, finishing off the album at a slow and emotional pace, slowly fading into a tasteful piano piece before ending the album on a beautiful note. This tasteful approach is what Worship truly excels at, not one aspect is over-emphasized and ruins the others. Where Terranean Wake
isn't as emotionally evocative as Dooom
, it's equally as moving in different ways despite being less striking and more atmospheric and massive. The fact they didn't try and re-create what they had with Max was an approach I whole-heartedly approve of. They took everything they did right and put it in a different context, ruining nothing of what they excelled at and making a unique album that I can see very few Worship fans at least not enjoying, if not adoring. Terranean Wake
is massive, expansive and a showcase of Worship performing at their very best.