Review: Procession – Doom Decimation
It’s rare that I look forward to an album quite as much as I did Procession’s Doom Decimation, and with the release of this album, I feel completely justified in it. Formed in Chile a bit over ten years ago, Procession have gone from a small Chilean crew satisfyingly carrying the torch of epic doom to quite possibly the best modern band playing in the genre, carried by the powerful and charismatic vocals (and songwriting) of frontman Felipe Plaza, a force of doom who has at some point or another played every single instrument for Procession.
Considering that Plaza has recently joined forces with two black/thrash legends (both Nifelheim and Deströyer 666) and has been songwriting with both I was left wondering if there would be time for Procession to shine, but Doom Decimation has come with no more of a wait than usual for them; we even got a fantastic album from Plaza’s other doom project, Capilla Ardiente, in the interim, showing a productivity and quality across it that any musician would be jealous of.
Procession’s hallmark over the years has been that of all epic doom bands- strong rhythms, gorgeous leads soaring over them, and a mesmerizing frontman leading the way through each song. The songwriting is as catchy and memorable as ever, perhaps even more so, and a bit of variety of songwriting keeps the flow of the album from ever catching itself in a rut. The first moments of the guitar coming in on the instrumental intro (something I’m a big fan of, when they’re handled with muscular riffing rather than as an excuse to kill time) tell you what to expect for the rest of the album- big riffs, wonderful leads, uncompromising doom, catchy basslines, and a nicely upped amount of classic heavy metal to keep things interesting.
As I mentioned, the flow from song to song has some nice changes, with the first full track (“When Doomsday Has Come”) providing a pounding and epic counterpoint to the gloomy doom of “Lonely Are The Ways of The Stranger” and a glorious instrumental halfway through the album (“Democide”) both expands on the themes I wanted to hear more of in the intro and closes the first half of the album with a bang. Side B is a bit longer and more adventurous on the songwriting front, building to bigger crescendos and carrying larger stories; overall, though, the album has more (and shorter) songs than Procession’s previous efforts, which ties well with the pounding heavy metal mood that more of the songs take than you might have expected from these doom aficionados.
The actual instrumental performance is, as always, fantastic; the leadwork from both guitarists is tightly performed and incredibly well written, the rhythms are tight, and the bassist (who also plays with Plaza in Capilla Ardient), does a lot of fantastic work with the album, noodling where appropriate but always knowing where to rein it in and follow the root or harmonize with it. The drums (performed by former In Solitude drummer Uno Bruniusson) pound through the songs with grace, skill, restraint, and taste, carrying them to a height that wouldn’t be reached with a lesser musician behind the kit. Each man knows his place in the band and comes together to form a mature whole that’s only complemented by the album’s large production, which allows listeners to hear each instrument clearly without any of them ever losing any power.
My only complaint with the album is the artwork, which is terrible, and given how good everything else is, that hardly seems like a condemnation at all. If you’re a fan of doom, or even if you aren’t, I can’t recommend picking this one up enough, along with the rest of the band’s back catalog, and indeed, most of the bands the members are involved with- they’re a talented group of guys, and it shows.
Images courtesy of Procession.