Review Summary: Grinds your severed head into the dirt.
As nuanced as it is devastating and as poignant as it is malevolent, Inverloch’s long-awaited debut full-length is the embodiment of what death-doom should sound like in 2016. Distance | Collapsed
is sonically-modern, but it eschews the banalities that often come with such a tag; it’s a textbook example of what can be done utilising today’s recording techniques with the slightest bit of tact. Though feeling rather opulent as opposed to cavernous, the production is absolutely stellar, allowing every snare hit, bass kick, note and chord to bellow with the force of a tectonic plate shifting. The album’s sheer massiveness defies belief given that it comes at no compromise to fidelity or dynamics, even rivalling the crankability of extreme metal’s partisans from the early ‘90s – a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from Relapse Records today.
Aesthetics aren’t the only department in which Distance | Collapsed
puts the competition to shame, however. The eponymous opener is an unpredictable behemoth that tosses you around like a rag doll, peaking in terms of malice around halfway through. Suffocation-esque chugging is interposed between land-levelling doom and a fusillade of tremolo riffs, no sequence baring much resemblance to the others but each fitting the progression of the song nonetheless. No doubt, Inverloch’s ability to take a handful of irreconcilable ideas and form something cogent out of them counts for a lot, but they’re just as adept when at their most orthodox. Clocking in at just over six minutes, “Lucid Delirium” is the shortest and most customary track on here, but you’d be hard pressed to separate it and the aforementioned title-track as far as effectiveness is concerned. Its linearity exacerbates the bludgeoning nature; with only a small ceasefire in the middle, the song just grinds your severed head into the dirt.
Distance | Collapsed
isn’t all hellfire and brimstone, though. There is a tendency to drift into the realm of funeral doom, much like the proto-Inverlochians of diSEMBOWELMENT. “The Empyrean Torment” lapses into a pit of despair at certain points, but quickly resumes business as usual in pummelling the listener to a pulp. “Cataclysm of Lacuna” is slower but one in the same, except doing an even better job in highlighting the throaty vocals and the crystal clarity of the cymbal work. However, “From the Eventide Pool” is the aural quintessence of suffering, wallowing in unadulterated dejection and on the fringes of an existential crisis. Reverberant keys act as rays of sunlight through closed blinds, but the ever-present fog of misery candidly suppresses any hope of resolve. Even the miniscule – though still very deliberate – fluxes in the timing of pick strokes add a palpable touch of human frailty, causing the song to slog in way that emphasises the feeling of lowliness as opposed to inducing boredom.
No matter their means, Inverloch leave behind a trail of ruin as if it’s second nature. Like the indomitable forces of Mother Earth, any attempt to curtail the damage seems futile once things are set to motion. I suppose this is to be expected given the members’ heritage, but the fact remains that it is difficult to really brace yourself for the assault that is Distance | Collapsed