VoCWith a title like this, it’s perhaps inevitable that the basic fare on offer is slow and sludgy doom. Malta’s Victims of Creation are an interesting band, having started out in 1992 but having a 13 year gap before re-starting in 2009. I’d like to say that in line with their themes and style, they were melancholically contemplating life during this period but it seems that the gap was more to do with band membership logistics. Now stalwarts of the Malta Doom Festival, they sit gloomily alongside My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost with whom their work can be compared.

Doom can be a narrow framework and on “Symmetry of our Plagued Existence” we have five long slabs of it. Ponderous as it is, here the gloom changes as if life goes on regardless. We’re not being asked to contemplate death, which is static, but there’s plenty of despair. The five doomy slabs are more like a series of passages as if a story is being told. The doom can be mechanical or even psychedelic and turbulent in its quiet but very heavy extremity. Growls are the essence of the vocals as you’d expect but there are fainter, more pagan tones. The sound is not new. I sense an affinity with Sabbath here. In any case, there are no gleaming buildings here, just old ones which are full of harshness and sadness. The mood continues to change just as dark clouds bring different weather, but it’s always slow. The misery of it acts like a head wind, pushing back the pace as the instrumentalists fight to break through and move forward. It is painful.

Interest value is juxtaposed with bewilderment and suffering over the first three tracks. Then “The Glorious Deceit” strikes up. As ever, it is segmented. To start, there’s a delicate plaintiveness which hasn’t featured before. It’s a little like Haken when they enter those reflective passages. But here it develops into growly doom before progressing into instrumental and a sort of doomy orchestral pomp. The epic and controlled majesty is taken further on “Those Left Behind”. The sound effect develops of a clock ticking. Fuzzy drifting in and out of consciousness takes place as if someone’s life is draining away. It stops for a while and a sad mediteranean-style acoustic piece finishes off the album.

This sort of music needs to be inhaled and Victims of Creation show their skill on this album by sticking to the essential formula of doom while developing dark atmospheres and leaving a variety of gloomy pictures in the listener’s imagination. I found “Symmetry of our Plagued Existence” heavy going but then that’s what it’s supposed to be.

(6 10 Andrew Doherty)