Review Summary: A wretched ghost howls through the night
With the word “witch” in the band name, you’d probably expect some sort of doom metal in the vein of Electric Wizard and Sleep. Longing
is doom metal, but on the opposite side of the spectrum. It is not “fun.” It’s not the type of doom you would throw on to rock out and smoke some weed to. Longing
is the embodiment of despair, emptiness, and of course, longing. This is funeral doom, one of the bleakest forms of music in existence. For the masochistic few who choose to inflict that sort of thing on themselves, read on.
There are only two members: Bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Adrian Guerra. One could easily mistake this band for a three-piece, maybe a four. Desmond’s instrument certainly isn’t lacking in power, and his six-string bass makes for a slightly unique tone. With it, he slams home riffs as slow as molasses and delivers melodies as mournful as a bereaved lover, playing rhythm as well as lead on the same instrument.
Both members handle vocals. Guerra, along with his duties as a funeral march drummer, handles the guttural death metal vocals, sounding like a ghost howling from a distant haunted forest. Desmond does the clean singing. His voice is sometimes layered and drenched in reverb, turning him into an ethereal choir or a droning invocator taking part in an esoteric ritual. Other times, when the effects are scaled back, his performance is more personal and vulnerable.
"Beneath the Mask" feels like a sort of interlude, and is the most minimal track on the album. It features only the bass playing a sparse melody that slowly changes over time, droning over a sample from the film The Masque of the Red Death
, making for a sobering moment of reflection.
wraps up with "I Wait," a twelve minute dirge. It begins with heavy distortion and a fairly sinister chord progression, then cuts the distortion and summons droning vocals before exploding again with a piercing scream and more spine-chilling howls from Guerra. Nearing the midway point, the song softens up some, crushing chords contrasting with a somewhat bluesy melody. As the song leads up to the climax, the tempo is lifted a bit, Guerra becoming busier behind the kit and Desmond returning with the melody from "Beneath the Mask." This time around, it doesn’t sound so despondent. The song hits the climax with tortured screams and choir vocals before the outro track plays the album out. The outro hearkens back to "Beneath the Mask" yet again; a lone bass guitar playing that same sparse melody. However, this time the strumming is more forceful and less drawn out. If "Beneath the Mask" was a descent into the terror of hopelessness, the outro is the strength gained from going through hell and coming out to the other end not unscathed, but alive.