Review Summary: An anomaly in the doom world that didn't really ever repeat itself.
Confessor are a band that made its first appearance in 1991 with Condemned, an album with a rather minor impact at the time of its release. As a result, the band vanished into oblivion, only to return over a decade later and release Unraveled, a decent but slightly less distinctive album with its turn. In some ways comparable to Memento Mori
or Solitude Aeturnus
, but still very much unique in their sound, it's difficult to really put it into a particular genre; it's got the power metal influence of the aforementioned pair of bands and their doom elements, but it's also got grinding, heavy death metal riffs mixed in, and with much more complex song structures and rhythms. But not only is Condemned
a unique album, it's an all round engaging and weighty listen.
Perhaps the most obvious strengths and weaknesses in the album lie in two instrumental areas: the drums and the vocals, respectively. The drumming on this album is famously some of the best of the time, with complex rhythms easily flowing into each other and with extraneous fills thrown; it carries a lot of the songs' energy and helps to make the album or the more interesting. The vocals, however, are definitely an acquired taste. If you thought the guy from Watchtower
was bad, you better keep your distance, since this album provides similar vocals but with an even more present wailing quality. It's likely to turn off a lot of listeners, but it's tolerable enough and does provide an effective contrast to the doomy, churning guitars and bass beneath. The guitar parts do also escape into tech-metal territory occasionally, with little fills reminiscent of the aforementioned Watchtower
mixed in with crushing death-tinged doom riffs.
A lot of the tracks build the same atmosphere, but particular highlights include a pair of opening tracks, Alone
and Collapse Into Despair
, with shifting rhythms and a punishing atmosphere and weight to each. Uncontrolled
also powers ahead nicely, with some oddly timed riffs and some of the albums most furious drumming and vocals, although the gang vocals at one point sound a bit out of place. The title track is another highlight, with a complex opening drum line leading into one of the catchiest but most rhythmically odd tracks on the album. Realistically though, all the tracks are up to more or less the same high standard, but some are a little less distinctive, like The Stain
, which is solid but nothing too different from anything offered in earlier tracks.
Really, this album is perhaps a bit more intriguing than necessarily effective; it's a bit repetitive, and the vocals may put some people off, but it's impossible to find an album that quite fits the same potent template. It's not particularly accessible, either musically or physically, but it's a strong album all round and it'll most likely appeal to the power-doom crowd; just expect something a little different.
Collapse Into Despair