Doomthousandnineteen: God Disease, Lysithea, & Vanha
As you get older the days get more stressful and everything seems to move faster, so it’s about darn time you take back time from that thieving little clock take your time to delve into these doom records.
God Disease – Drifting Towards Inevitable Death
Almost a decade since their initial beginning, God Disease’s debut album has arrived. Though they have steadily been releasing material worth of four, eh, three demo/EPs (the band likes to pretend Crawling Out Of The Coffin never happened, and I’ve never heard it, so I’m comfortable following suite). All of them follow a similar suite of old school death metal, sluggish, death metal occasionally breaking into a groovier, melodic mid-tempo patch. Despite this they never reminisced of the Coventry-four, instead Abyss Cathedral’s “Of Frost and Fear” played around on some painfully textbook Amon Amarth riffs, unfortunately also proving the most memorable moment on the EP. Lack of memorability would continue to plague them, as though Doom Howler was a careful step up on practically every aspect, the thing that most stuck was the fact it included an Entombed cover.
But years roll by, and Rebirth of Horror proved a considerably stronger effort, almost three years ago. Drifting Towards Inevitable Death continues down this chosen path, over the years the doom aspect of the bands music has consistently grown, and by now it’s taken complete control. The first two songs set the pace, which most songs follow, churning chords and songs that rely on malign atmosphere, rather than the sorcerous stylings of Ghoulgotha or the surging sledgehammer riffs of Coffins, though the latter approach makes an appearance or two. The melodic side hasn’t been forgone completely, but they make careful appearances, content on enhancing rather than leading.
Drifting Towards Inevitable Death isn’t all one-note, as “Cadaver Sculptor” and “King of Maggot Crawling Flesh” are quick to demonstrate. The former features the albums most singular riff, and exemplary use of melody, while the latter raises pace, to what may in context be considered boisterous. Unfortunately “set the pace”, in this case, means that the second half hardly features any such deviations, leaving it monotonous and even mundane at times. Since the titular closer already struggles with it’s nigh ten-minute length, the penultimate “Blessed Darkness”, a tedious effort in it’s own right, desperately calls for another faster track to replace it. Yet mostly, Drifting Towards Inevitable Death is good death/doom. It still isn’t particularly memorable, but the band has solved some of the issue with an approach moodier still. A dark and extremely heavy debut album that’s most certainly a promising beginning, if it does leave something to be desired.
3,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Lysithea – Star-Crossed
Lysithea was found in 2010 by one Mike Lamb, and would go on to release two EPs and a full-length of melodic, instrumental doom with prog and death flavour. In 2014 he was joined by Mike Wilson as a songwriter and a vocalist, and the two released The Secret Fate of All Life, which took great advantage from black metal influence as well, and though doom still seemed a largely defining feature for the project, it was only momentarily constricted by the genres dragging tropes. It also featured first of the duo’s many collaborations with vocalist Chloe Bray. Quickly followed with similar Realms, an album of quality but one that seemed to imitate it’s predecessor closely. Not a complaint I find myself making too often, but Lysithea until then had been a band undergoing change of some kind on each succeeding record, shifting, if not evolving. Although following The Secret Fate… so quickly with an album as good as Realms was a feat in itself, especially given that on the very same year Lamb and Bray would find the atmospheric black metal project Sojourner, which Wilson would subsequently join as well.
Given Sojourner’s recent activity and popularity, as well as the passing of years, Lysithea’s passing seemed likely, yet here they are with their first label released album Star-Crossed. Sort of. Star-Crossed is, in fact, an album written and performed completely by Wilson, who seems to have taken over Lamb’s once-solo-project, though the latter still remains behind the mixing board. The difference between Lamb’s and Wilson’s songs was never so great as there to be any fear Star-Crossed would not sound like Lysithea. The only true reminders are the lack of Lamb’s preferred elasticity in transition and a greater variety of Wilson’ preferred chugs in a manner that reminds me of an old favourite – Crimson Swan. A change of some greater significance is the newfound lack of black metal influence, and tremolo-melodies, something perhaps to be blamed on Sojourner rather than the absence of a former songwriter.
That is not to say Star-Crossed sees Lysithea become monotonous, there’s plenty of variation between the songs. Whereas the opener, “An Empty Throne” is the archetypal slow trudge through ethereal keys and chug riff, very strongly bringing into mind the aforementioned Crimson Swan’s “Fade To Nothingness”, before it turns towards Swallow The Sun-reminiscent melodies, already the second track “Away” is a far nimbler effort with a higher tempo and busier leadwork. And the nine-minute “Unearthly Burial” keeps switching the lead- and background duties between keys and guitar, and often employs both simultaneously. Yet several of the songs, basically the whole back-half from the piano instrumental “Celeste” to the thirteen-minute mammoth “Fever Dream” that briefly recalls the band’s blackened past before fading, drag on for so long they’ve a problem to carry their length. Though it can be a little too much, Star-Crossed is not an album to be missed for any lover of melodic metal or doom.
3,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Vanha – Melancholia
On the 28th day of December 2016, a Swedish death/doom duo Vanha released their debut album Within The Mists of Sorrow. On that very same day, Our Most Benevolent Papa Joe had the honor/duty of premiering it. Exactly two years later, to the date, they released Melancholia. Though drummer Jesse Oinas had departed between the two, leaving mastermind Jan Johansson on his own. The sophomore is mighty proof that Johansson has the vision, and the skill to realize it on his own. Not every one-man band needs to be a bedroom-band.
Fans of the debut will mostly feel at home here. The “dirge fest of distortion and suitably gruff growls” is still complemented with keys, organs, Peter Steele-esque clean vocals and strings, though the lattermost are used to a more dramatic effect than before, of which “Storm of Grief” or in the personal favourite “Your Heart In My Hands”, the albums busiest song – in terms of structure, the tempo does not exceedingly grow on this record, although “YHIMH” also includes the fastest beats. Melancholia is scarcer than it’s predecessor, not significantly but enough to resemble funeral doom at times, though those allergic to it need not fret – My Dying Bride, Katatonia and Doom:VS (up until 2008) are still the closest comparisons and guitar solos, piano parts and the aforementioned string arrangements keep the album vivacious. For my money, it’s (one of) the best doom album(s) the first quarter of 2019 has had to offer (shut up nerd, it came out on the last days of last December, that’s 2019).
4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Each of the respective albums have now been released, on FDA Records, Naturmacht Productions and Black Lion Records. Visit the labels, or the bands on their Facebook pages and tell them the Toilet said “‘Sup”.