Only now have I listened to this for the first time and it has had a most profound effect upon me. Within it's crushing drone I hear the dying of stars and the destruction of galaxies. This is one of the most affecting metal releases I have ever heard:
This is my favourite Fallen playlist to date. There's some serious hardcore Fallen-related shit going on here. OK, so I'm not crazy about that lengthy first track and the Lacuna Coil track is lightweight, but everything else really hits the mark with me. Well done all round to everyone involved. Here's some brief thoughts on each of the tracks:
01. Midnight Odyssey – “Dawn-Bringer” (from “Biolume Part 2: The Golden Ord”, 2021) 2.5/5 Summoning do doom metal - not really for me and way too long.
02. Body Void – “Wound” (from “Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth”, 2021) 4/5 Crushing, droning sludge metal that's like a bull elephant standing on your balls. Strongly reminiscent of Burning Witch (which is a good thing).
03. Melvins – “Isabella” (from “King Buzzo”, 1992) 4/5 Ah Melvins. Never has a band made me feel more schizophrenic - sometimes fucking unbearable, sometimes sublime, but never boring! This I like.
04. Lacuna Coil – “Senzafine” (from “Halflife” E.P., 2000) 2.5/5 I had a spell around the time of this EP's release of having quite a thing for Lacuna Coil, but as I have descended further down the extreme metal rabbit hole the less this sort of commercial metal appeals. Nowadays this doesn't sound all that different to Evanescence which, just to clarify, is not a good thing.
05. Earth – “Thrones & Dominions” (from “Phase 3: Thrones & Dominions”, 1995) 4.5/5 Really love this. Like some kind of primordial soundtrack to the formation of planets. I'm not at all as familiar with Earth as I know I should be.
06. King Woman – “Celestial Blues” (from “Celestial Blues”, 2021) 4/5 Will have to check this album out for sure. Shoe-gazey, atmo-sludgy marvellousness.
07. Solitude Aeturnus – “The 9th Day: Awakening” (from “Through The Darkest Hour”, 1994) 4/5 Classic epic / trad doom from a band with a huge debt to Candlemass.
09. The Slow Death – “Famine” (from “Siege”, 2021) 4.5/5 Initially soaring, turning infernally subterranean, death doom that has a lot going on.
10. Black Lodge – “Dissonance” (from “Covet”, 1995) 4/5 Great track from a criminally overlooked album.
11. Esoteric – “Dominion Of Slaves” (from “The Pernicious Enigma”, 1997) 5/5 Yet another example why Esoteric are the greatest funeral doom band of all time. Unremittingly bleak and desperate doom metal just how I like it.
12. Vouna – “Vanish” (from “Atropos”, 2021) 4.5/5 Eigenlicht's Yianna Bekris proves (if proof were needed) that women can contribute more than just nice, ethereal vocals to extreme doom metal. If not for Skepticism this would have been my funeral doom album of the year (so far).
Updated my list to include Boris' "Pink' album at the top. It's debatable as to whether it's a genuine Stoner Metal release or not however Stoner Metal is its only tag on Metal Academy so why the fuck not. Anyway... Sleep have now been completely dumped from my list which is interesting given their legendary status in the scene.
I took a quick listen to the first 15 minutes or so of the album, and I could hear what you mean, Daniel. This is indeed gothic darkwave with barely any emphasis of metal, and by what I've heard, it has no chance of ever making me reconsider my move out of gothic/doom metal to be finalized this month. By the beginning of track 5, with the twinkling of a lullaby crib mobile, I had enough. Darkwave is not my thing, so don't ever expect me to listen to more of this band or a group of a similar style like Nox Arcana. Though it has been great listening to those albums from Paradise Lost and Type O Negative, and earlier on, Tiamat and The Gathering, throughout my years in the gothic/doom zone...
As much as I want to agree with Saxy here since we both had similar experiences of having to start this album over 3 or 4 times to get all the way through it, I think it's unfair to the Funeral Doom genre to have any sort of set-in-stone opinion after only one listen. I've always been one to rate fairly concretely after only one listen, which is something that I'm sure some other music fans despise, but I think there's a place for having an initial impression rating vs one that may fluctuate over time. If I don't want to spend 5 hours and 5 spins of an album to know that it's a 2/5 then I don't think that I should have to take that time.
Although for Monolithe, it feels wrong giving this a score that may not reflect the potential I feel like this album has. It's one of those where I feel like playing the middleman between Saxy and Sonny because while I do have a hard time getting lost in most Funeral Doom albums, there have been plenty of releases from Bell Witch, Evoken, and Esoteric that have seriously captivated me. Monolithe II isn't one that instantly captivated me and, like Saxy, I found it to be pretty dull through and through despite enjoying the slightly more spacey atmosphere and the accordion features. It has almost zero standout moments hardly even dips below the general monotony apart from once in the beginning of the song and briefly at the 22-minute mark to attempt to build towards something. However, the atmosphere of it all also puts me Sonny's camp where the repetition is kind of the point and letting the music and feelings envelop you rather than expecting the composition to completely hold your hand.
I think where I stand is that while I consider myself to be a pretty patient listener when it comes to all genres of Metal, the band should still have to put in some of the legwork to make their ideas compelling. While I enjoy putting together my own ideas for one album every once and a while, when it comes to a genre as crushing and repetitive as Funeral Doom, the albums that I find to be the best do a great job of having one or two tangible rewards hidden beneath the rubble that most listeners should be able to pick up on even during their first listen. The best one that comes to my mind is the transition portion between "As Above" and "So Below" during Bell Witch'sMirror Reaper, which even on my first listen made me shiver all the way down to my bones. I'm all for having to look deep within an album for its best qualities, but something has to be present in the first place to make me want to dig that deep.
...sorry, Skepticism have had to go on hold temporarily as I've just got hold of Warning's Watching from a Distance - Live at Roadburn.
Anybody who has listened to any of my bullshit already knows that the original WfaD is my all-time favourite album. This is an extremely faithful rendering of the album and Patrick Walker's vocals may be even more heart-wrenching as a one-shot deal (or due to there being an extra ten years in his vocal chords) than on the studio release. I can feel myself tearing up already!!
Here I am wide open, Surrendering to your side I have laid down my armour, I have no sword at my side
I leave behind me the ruins Of the fortress I swore to defend I leave behind me foundations, I'll leave you a man I'll need you to mend
And through all the battles around me I never believed I would fight, Yet here I stand a broken soldier, Shivering, naked, in your winter light
Well it hasn't taken me long to make adjustments to the Top Ten Sludge Metal Releases Of All Time list I posted yesterday, has it? I've been meaning to give Louisiana sludge metallers Acid Bath's third album "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" a few spins ever since really enjoying their 1994 sophomore album "When The Kite String Pops" a year or so back & the results have proven to be equally rewarding. Acid Bath are the type of band that are very difficult to pigeon hole as the sludge metal tag seemed to be used predominantly in the absence of anything better suited. Sure, there are definitely a few sludge tracks amongst this lot however there's a lot more to this band than that. In fact, I'd suggest that there's probably as much stoner metal here as there is sludge with a very strong grunge influence & a noticeable Southern feel about everything they undertake. You can also expect to hear a bit of hardcore punk, death metal, darkwave & dark ambient scattered across the tracklisting too if you listen closely however it all somehow seems to sound like Acid Bath which is a definite feather in the band's caps. I love their crunchy guitar tone which is heavy as fuck & reminds me of Crowbar while the vocal performance of Dax Riggs is a major drawcard with his clean delivery sounding like a deeper version of Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme mixed in with a bit of a gothic influence at times. The stripped back acoustic tracks like "Dead Girl" are great but there's no surprise that it's the heavier material like the death metal-inspired "Locust Spawning" & the doomy album-highlight "Graveflower" that really float my boat. "Paegan Terrorism Tactics" is another great record from Acid Bath & I find it impossible to split the band's two classic releases.
For fans of Eyehategod, Melvins & Crowbar.
Vinny, I'll be surprised if you don't enjoy this one as I know you liked its predecessor & this one is just as good in my opinion.
This video has popping up in my YouTube recommendations for a while, and I think now's a good time to share it as one of my last major Fallen-related posts. I'm sure many of you doom metal lovers are familiar with these:
My Dying Bride – “A Kiss To Remember” (from “Like Gods Of The Sun”, 1996)
4.5/5. This mournful song of captivating grief is a playlist beginning to remember, especially since it will be the last Fallen playlist with my submissions (including this one), an unforgettable elegy of ethereal doom atmosphere, sounding close to the previous album with doomy lyrical balladry and being 7 and a half minutes long, the longest song of this album. Yeah, the songs in this album are in slightly more radio-friendly lengths, as opposed to the 10-minute monoliths from earlier albums.
Theatre Of Tragedy – “Forever Is The World” (from “Forever Is The World”, 2009)
5/5. I remember this to be the final song uploaded in my previous account (the one before SirZP) before my initial departure from my earlier epic melodic metal taste, so this was the sign that my time submitting Fallen playlist suggestions is over. And yes, it's the beautiful end to Theatre of Tragedy's journey, the title finale of their last album and the conclusion of their final concert performed exactly 17 years after their 1993 formation. Oh the memories from 5 years before the present! Those good poetic lyrics fit well for the end of that era, like an everlasting illusion of reality. This band's lead singer Nell Sigland can sing far better than a popstar like Miley Cyrus, whether back then or now. I nearly cried when those touching lyrics hit me again, though they may sound slightly flat. And yeah this is actual gothic metal, as opposed to my Theatre of Tragedy submission for last month that was basically an orchestral ballad, not sure what I was thinking. I miss this band, they may be gone, but forever is the world....
Saint Vitus – “Saint Vitus” (from “Saint Vitus”, 1984)
4/5. Well with my departure from Fallen playlist submissions that would indicate the possibility of leaving The Fallen, I definitely wouldn't plan on going to the beginning of a traditional doom band's career. This one sounds a bit punky for a doom song though, but that's probably because of the band sharing the scene with Misfits and Black Flag.
Paradise Lost – “The Last Time” (from “Draconian Times”, 1995)
5/5. This is the last song from Paradise Lost for me to submit to a Fallen playlist, this is..."The Last Time". Yet another excellent track, sounding similar to Metallica at the time, this time mixed with Depeche Mode the industrial drumming of Godflesh. As awesome as All That Remains' "The Last Time"!
Anathema – “A Dying Wish” (from “The Silent Enigma”, 1995)
4.5/5. Here's one more 90s death-doom song in the last Fallen playlist with my submissions, though this one isn't my own. Great one, Ben! This one continues the majestic fashion of the earlier parts of its album, retaining some aggression and adding thunderous upbeat riff-wrath similar to the prog-death style of Opeth at that time. Everything in the song from mellow and heavy is a great summary of the album style.
Draconian – “Stellar Tombs” (from “Sovran”, 2015)
5/5. I seemed to peak in early on my possible future departure from The Fallen when I severed my listening connection to this band and a few others besides my death metal departure in April. This is one of only a few Draconian songs I still love, being absolutely epic with tremendous melody, like h*lla f***ing deep! Wonderful...
Cult Of Luna – “O R O” (from “Vertikal II” E.P., 2013)
4.5/5. OK, just a heads-up, if I really do make my Fallen departure, sludge metal would probably be the one Fallen genre I'll still keep, because conventional sludge has some hardcore roots that would also form a genre I still enjoy, metalcore, and post-sludge is, more often than not, closer to the first part of its name. This one can almost act as a bridge between Eternal Kingdom and Vertikal, a standout to blow me the f*** away!
And finally, while I won't be doing anymore Fallen playlist submissions, I'll still be commenting on later Fallen playlists until I decide that my Fallen time is up. Enjoy my submissions while they're still here!
Here's my review. It was written many years ago, but I doubt I'd feel very different about it today.
It’s always difficult to write a review for a favourite album. Expressing how much music means to you in words can be a daunting prospect, as the thought of not doing an album justice weighs heavily on the mind whenever attempting it. Brave Murder Day is such an album for me and I hope that I manage to convey my adoration for it over the next few paragraphs. These Swedes had already impressed me greatly by the time I came across this treasure, with their debut full length album Dance of December Souls and the following For Funerals to Come EP both containing hauntingly atmospheric death doom metal, with fantastic melodies and passion-filled vocals. However, as much as I found their music to be moving and entertaining, there’s no doubt that it displayed some signs of immaturity, with less than tight musicianship on occasion and room for improvement in the way their tracks were structured. Taking all this into account, I figured Katatonia would be all the better for the experience, and that their next album would in all likelihood overcome these awkward moments and deliver something very special indeed. Little did I know that this next album would come very close to never eventuating at all, and how dramatically different it would be once it finally did.
After the success of Dance of December Souls, Renkse and Blackheim were not only struggling to find a stable line-up, but they were also finding it difficult to decide exactly where to take their sound. They had toyed with the idea of performing gothic rock with the Scarlet Heavens recording (eventually appearing on a split vinyl with Primordial) before ditching the idea and reverting back to their original sound. This indecision appears to have come to a head after the For Funerals to Come session in 1994, which led to these long term friends putting Katatonia on hold for an indefinite period of time. Blackheim used the sabbatical to explore other genres of metal, putting his energy into the black metal carnival that is Diabolical Masquerade (creating the amazing Ravendusk in My Heart in the process), and also taking part in a thrash metal band called Bewitched. Renkse on the other hand combined with Fredrik Norrman to form October Tide, recording Rain Without End before the end of 1995. It has to be said that October Tide’s debut album, which wouldn’t be officially released until 1997, is where the Brave Murder Day sound was really established, and one has to wonder whether Katatonia would have gone down this path at all had this short hiatus not taken place.
In early 1996, the duo reformed Katatonia and significantly brought Norrman into the fold. There was however one more issue they needed to deal with before getting down to business. Jonas could no longer perform the harsh vocals he was known for due to the extensive damage it was doing to his throat. They’d have to find a replacement vocalist and what better place to look than amongst your own country mates. In steps Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth fame. While the man may receive criticism from a growing number of Opeth bashers (as is the case with anything popular it seems), there’s just no doubt in my mind that Mikael is one of the finest vocalists in metal. His performance on Brave Murder Day may not demonstrate the extent of his capabilities, but the controlled anger and melancholy he brings suits the musical themes perfectly. Blackheim and Fredrik produce multitudes of sumptuous melodies throughout, but the other technique that they utilise to achieve their goal is repetition. These tracks have such a calming, hypnotic effect on the listener, despite the extreme despondency that this sound conveys. The album has influenced so many other bands (not least of all Finnish band Rapture) and changed the perception of what doom death metal is capable of. After all, there’s nothing romantic or gothic about Brave Murder Day. It’s mid paced, droning and raw!
Brave Murder Day’s title is taken directly from the first three tracks on the album, but there are six tracks in all totalling just over forty minutes. The first of these (Brave obviously) is the best of the lot in my opinion, being a ten minute classic built around constant rhythmic riffs and Mikael’s grief-stricken vocals. Murder, Rainroom and closer Endtime come awfully close to matching Brave and are all brilliant, but their lesser running times don’t quite allow them the room to outshine it. 12 stands out as having a slightly different structure to the rest, which isn’t surprising considering it’s actually a reworking of an earlier Katatonia track called Black Erotica, originally recorded for the W.A.R. Compilation Volume 1 for Wrong Again Records in 1995. There’s no question that it’s third track Day that causes the most controversy amongst fans of the band. This depressing little “ballad” was the first track to contain entirely clean vocals from Renkse and many consider his performance here to be a bit weak, despite the fact that he would take over full time clean vocals on all albums from this point onwards. While I agree that he would go from strength to strength with each subsequent album, I still think this track gives the album a much needed shift in intensity and his emotional, vulnerable style only adds to the melancholy.
One of the other things of note when discussing Brave Murder Day is that the album was originally released completely un-mastered. Why this happened is anyone’s guess (perhaps the band felt no need to tinker with the result) but it wasn’t until 2006 that Peaceville would re-release the album in mastered form for the very first time. I haven’t heard this updated version, but to be honest, I see no need to. The production on the original has nothing of note that needs adjusting and the organic sound of the instruments works in its favour rather than against it. The thing that does make the Peaceville release appealing is that it also includes the fantastic EP Sounds of Decay. This three track EP contains the only other material recorded with this line-up and therefore sits perfectly alongside Brave Murder Day, unlike the For Funerals to Come EP which is included on the Century Media version. That being said, both of these EPs can be found on the Brave Yester Days compilation (along with stacks of other rare and unreleased material), so there’s no real reason in my mind to upgrade from the original pressing of this classic album. In the end, Brave Murder Day is an album that all fans of depressive metal should own, regardless of which version you choose. It’s an album I can never get sick of and is thoroughly deserving of five stars.
Theatre Of Tragedy – “…A Distance There Is…” (from “Theatre Of Tragedy”, 1995)
4.5/5. Interesting how I felt like submitting a song that's more orchestral, but it still has the despair that can be found in gothic doom albums like this one. So beautiful yet depressive, with poetic lyrics from medieval English. Theatre of Tragedy was one of my favorite gothic metal bands from my earlier epic metal taste 5 years ago (and one of only few back then), and the lovely vocals of Liv Kristine are never to be dismissed. Her singing stirs up a scenario of a fairy held captive in a cage, hopelessly begging to be set free. Simply excellent, and could be a good song for when I'm dying in my bed. This is actual awesome gothic beauty, unlike the less serious emo sh*t. Her amazing voice can lead a wonderful choir! A beautiful soft song of enchantment...
5/5. An incredible track with simple lyrics of emphasized despair ("I’m returning from something, to something"), as part of the lyrical theme of a lost search for hope. Worth listening to after checking out this month's Fallen featured release (the album before this one).
Saturnus – “Lost My Way” (from “Martyre”, 2000)
5/5. An awesome song of atmospheric death-doom! Enough said...
Sentenced – “Crumbling Down (Give Up Hope)” (from “Down”, 1996)
4.5/5. I've already given up on this band recently because of their earlier death metal sound, but I still revisit their gothic metal material. This is one of my favorite songs from its album Down, more nicely depressive than their previous transition album Amok. The vocals fit greatly for this band when moving to a more melodic sound. This is a d*mn amazing tune, and sadly, any possible chance of hearing more from this band is lost with the passing of founding guitarist Miika Tenkula. RIP... I'm still thankful for this song to love, probably more than Metallica.
Darkthrone – “Lost Arcane City of Uppakra” (from “Eternal Hails......”, 2021)
4/5. Oh it's that band, Darkthrone, part of black metal's second wave in Norway... The riff in the intro sounds so bad-a** like its from an alt-rock/metal band. It's good, but they seem to focus on raw brutality in the music and cover art more than actual production. A very nice banger, but anyone having listening to their previous album Old Star would be wondering what the f*** just happened. Very good, but some parts are a bit cr*ppy, and I'm still not into black metal, OK?!
Isis – “Hand Of Doom” (from “Sawblade” E.P., 1999)
4.5/5. This is from back when Isis had a more doomy sludge sound than their later post-sludge. This cover of a Black Sabbath classic is quite a doomy headbanger to please both fans of Isis and Sabbath. Horns up!
Bethlehem – “Allegoria” (from “Mein Weg”, 2004)
3.5/5. Not really one of the best songs in the playlist, but it's pretty great, I guess...
Septic Flesh – “Έσοπτρον” (from Έσοπτρον”, 1995)
4/5. Again with Septicflesh! Esoptron is one of the band's more doomy albums, while still having the usual symphonic death metal sound I've moved away from, along with programmed drums. Still a great song!
My Dying Bride – “The Forever People” (from “As The Flower Withers”, 1992)
4.5/5. This is more of an example of fast death metal with no gothic elements with fast tempo and wicked growls for a sinister mood. Good song but there they emphasize the death in death-doom. It's all just destructive death metal territory with nothing delicate. And yet it still fits well with this playlist's death-doom section....
Cool list of 1993 favorites, Tymell! I think you might also enjoy these 3 gothic/doom albums from that year as well. They're fantastic starters before each band's next two masterpieces that would end each band's Fallen eras nicely...