Review Summary: An epic slab of My Dying Bride influenced modern day doom metal invoking feelings of dark despair and unrelenting sorrow. Cliche? Maybe but i'm a sucker for cliches.
Officium Triste is a melodic doom metal band from Rotterdam, Netherlands. The band originally took form as a death metal group called Reincremated in the early nineties but slowly but surely took an abrasive turn with their musical direction. Melodic doom is the name, taking influences from My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia, and Celestial Season in the process of becoming one of the genres finest in this modern day. The band had recorded three potent but somewhat lacking records in their career and just recently put out their finest output so far. “Giving Yourself Away” is Officium Triste’s fourth full length album and continues to walk down the sullen route they started with Ne Vivam, only this time capitalizing on past mistakes and tightening their sound. Songwriting has improved, the arrangements are more melancholic than ever, guitars are just as powerful, and most of all the vocals have seen a vast upgrade. The production for this album is noticeably stronger as well. All signs point towards great things for this band.
Coming in at 6 tracks with 48 minutes of material averages out to be 8 minutes per track which isn’t out of the ordinary for doom metal in general. “Giving Yourself Away” can be described as being crushing yet heavily melodic, with a large focus of the music being directed towards somber emotional landscapes driven by piano and occasional violin runs. Many aspects have improved a lot since the last time I checked up on the band. The songwriting for the album is pretty solid as there is no one track that sticks out from the rest. All six compositions are masterful and encompasses plenty of variety within the near 50 minutes of doom metal mayhem. Most notably vocalist Pim Blankenstein has seen a huge improvement in the vocal department. Aside from the deep, throaty growling akin to death and doom metal, his clean singing has improved so much that it’s become one of the pleasures I get from hearing this album. A cross somewhere between Jonas Renske and Nick Holmes, Pim does no less than deliver a solid gold performance with depressive yet highly emotional clean singing rivaling the forefathers of the genre. Lyrically, the album is just as mournful as the melodies on the album make it out to be, touching on tales of lost love and tragedy.
Aside from being a great singer, his bellowing growls are just as captivating. Granted, doom metal isn’t really a genre where you can experience much with harsh vocals, Pim nonetheless gives a bellowing effort with deep, throaty roars aggressive enough to shake the mountains in a seismic frenzy. My favorite aspect of the album is the melodic nature of the beast. Although still very heavy, the blueprints of the music remain at very slow speed channeling through melodic waves of hopelessness and despair. Much of this can be directed to the impressive guitar work stemming from Gerard de Jong and Bram Bijlhout. The duo plays great with each other, invoking several different moods and forming perfectly synched rhythms through each track. Lead guitar in particular is impressive. Gerard excels at incorporating bittersweet memories through the guitar with spellbinding melodies captivating the listener and carefully guiding the music at a gentle pace. Solos are present and sound terrific when heard, never tacky or out of place but instead impressive and a positive addition. Bram follows Gerard with ease, complementing the lead work with slow, heavy grooves invoking the bands heavier roots. Another big addition to the album is how much depth and texture that the piano brings to the table. The piano plays a moderate role with slow heavy notes pulsating through spacy synthesizer runs and plodding guitars. The best song from the album in my opinion happens to be the instrumental, “The Master Of Your Own Demise”. This also happens to be the closer and what a way to end the album. Words are not needed to explain the sheer power that the piano and guitar brings to the song. Each note flails perfectly together for 8 minutes only to fade out through the enveloping darkness. As for the drums and bass, both are given pretty basic treatment. The bass is toned down a bit for a good portion of the album’s duration but occasionally shows potential with deep, slow churning bass lines permeating the layers of metal. The drums are programmed in typical doom fashion with low tempo rock patterns and jittery bursts of double bass every now and then. Safe and predictable, nothing more, nothing less.
This album has plenty to rave about and only a few negative things to point out. Aside from the bass, I feel that the opening track doesn’t really set the standard for the album. “Your Eyes” is a great track but suffers greatly from monotony and doesn‘t really show off the band at their best. This is only a small pick though because the other five tracks are a blast to listen to in a closed preferably pitch black environment. All in all though, this is an excellent doom record for the new generation. With bands like Isole, Officium Triste, The Gates Of Slumber, and Worship around, it certainly is indeed a good day for doom.