Review Summary: zero reasons to be skeptical
In true Skepticism fashion, the long-running Finnish group were quiet for no less than 7 years following the release of their last record Alloy
. That release marked a pinnacle of sorts for the band - their brand of funeral doom that had slowly evolved since 1995 really came to maturity, while at the same time Alloy
set itself apart stylistically and aesthetically from Skepticism's previous recordings. It was a pleasing and not so surprising surprise then, to see Ordeal
pop out of nowhere early in 2015. What was a surprise however, was the fact this new album from one doom's greats was a live album, a notoriously difficult format for doom bands. Clouded with uncertainty at what I was about to be confronted with, my first play-through of Ordeal
was nothing short of breathtaking - not only have they brought to life the slow and bleak vibes that every Skepticism record finely conveys, but the new material presented here is of the utmost quality and further cements Skepticism as a tour de force in funeral doom today.
When it comes to the new material, there is definitely some semblance of continuity between it and the songs from Alloy
. It has that same command of melody, really allowing the organs and vocals to take control and direct the surge of riffs to ever darker depths. Being a live record I'm nothing short of amazed at how great it's been mastered. Everything sounds crystal clear, levels are set perfectly and each section is played with total precision. Being 8 relatively lengthy songs, Ordeal
is fantastic in which to lose yourself. Countless plays later, riding familiar highs and lows, I still do not feel any kind of boredom or 'put something else on'-itis each time I play it through. Alloy
when it was released and for years after had the same effect, and this has as much to do with Skepticism's unique sound as it does with their great song-writing. There are those that may balk at this release because it is a live album, but in all honesty it's really hard to actually know for sure unless you read about it beforehand - this sounds almost too good for a live album, and if it wasn't for the applause at the end of tracks giving it away, even I could have been fooled. As leycec says in his sound-off, this is 'essential material for long-standing Skepticism devotees'. I couldn't agree with this sentiment more. If you love Skepticism, Ordeal
's freshness and vigour will captivate you for at least another 7 years (hopefully).