Has it really been almost five years since ‘A Disease For The Ages,’ was released? Yes even though it hardly seems like it this Irish group have been inactive album wise for quite some time. When you look at it they have, apart from one Nick Cave cover which I am intrigued to hear, taken pretty much half a decade to give us these six songs; talk about bloody lazy! Of course I jest as there are songs and there are SONGS and these are definitely in the latter category with five of them coming in at a massively epic average running time of quarter of an hour each! Yes you read that right this is an epic album in every sense of the word. Not that this should really surprise anyone who has encountered the bands brand of atmospheric and emotionally tragic doom in the past.
We are dropped into a canvas of ‘wasted disease’ perhaps overflowing from last album with first number ‘Theories Of Old Bones.’ It is a maudlin and ponderous place where nothing happens fast. It is left for the instruments to slowly ebb and pound away with sorrowful refrain over the heartfelt and cleanly yearning vocals of Frank Brennan and the lower harsh growls of Darren Moore. Kind of on the nod it is an aeon before you suddenly hear a lone weeping guitar chord cutting through the mire, full of grief with its melody and the leonine vocals biting away at its heels. It is good to be back in the grasp of the band as it has as mentioned been such a while since there last offering as well as seeing them live. It is kind of akin to drinking a fine rich vintage wine, one that was saved for a special occasion, the previous taste of which being a fleeting memory. ‘Ethics On The Precipe’ is an odd title but instantly defined by a more heavyset weight with guitars and bass thicker in the mix and vocals more on the antagonistic and distempered side. It is still a slow beast make no mistake at all as it has over 17 minutes to unravel. After harmony etched clean parts a gentle acoustic guitar part totally lightens the mood in a dawn breaking kind of fashion, it is a somewhat welcome one before the track thickly broods back in. As I mentioned on the recent just as emotion fuelled album by The Prophecy recently there is a baby to the album and that is the under five minute ‘Old Rope.’ Still it’s hardly likely to be a single but gets going with a nice meaty drum ballast, atmospheric spoken words and big beefy growls. It’s very much in line with the album theme dealing with “a world of poison, insanity and nightmares” and it sets you quite on edge with a feeling of impending doom and obliteration running through it.
We move towards the second half and still have a normal album’s running time left. For me the album hits its stride with ‘Dead Channel’ mainly due to its (still slow) sense of majesty, grandiosity and a clean passionate chorus that is overwhelming in emotion. To say it is rich is an understatement and length be-damned it’s a fantastic song. The last song (yes I am skipping one something has to be left for you to hear yourself) is a bit of a strange one. It would appear that Transmissions is going to appear on an extra disc and doing the math I think it has to as there simply is not enough room for it on the one. Whether this is a standard or bonus edition I am uncertain but it does kind of stand out. Starting with very long acoustic passage with lilting quiet Irish voice telling what sounds like a tale slowly unravelling before it ups into a more strident affair with the vocals at the fore. It is one of those completely engrossing and very mature tracks, the sort that it takes an Irish band with the rigours of their history to pull off.
This is a real listen of an album and one that you need to fully have the time at your disposable to fully appreciate. If you have it will be one that you are comfortable with fairly quickly as despite length it does have immediacy and a huge amount of passion that is simply impossible to ignore behind it.
(8/10 Pete Woods)