Featuring members of Australian doom outfit The Slow Death, this self-titled release by Illimitable Dolor represents a tribute to friend and bandmate Gregg Williamson. The Slow Death vocalist passed away in December 2014 and close friend Stuart Prickett began to craft this work in the days after Gregg’s passing. Creating a piece of music in memory of someone so close must never be easy, however using doom metal as a vehicle this is a work of immense power and grace.

Spread over four tracks, the album has a total sense of being a whole where each piece compliments the next to build an emotional collage. Opening with “Rail Of Moon, A Stone”, the palpable sense of mourning and loss weighs heavily. Bookended by an atmospheric ceremonial aura, the belly is a dense and claustrophobic funereal dirge. A release of grief permeates the track as ethereal keyboards form a majestic backdrop to the thick riffs. Stuart Prickett’s vocals are a warm, low, throaty growl and sit easily within the ever so slow pace that constantly fills the senses with imagery.

The album’s crescendo moment is “Salt Of Brazen Seas” where heightened keyboards rise above some really meaty riffs where each heavily down tuned chord is drawn out for all it’s worth. This is a powerful track where it feels that everything is laid bare. A significant loss can take numerous forms and while this is obviously a deeply personal document it is also highly relatable and cathartic. Whilst stylistically there’s obvious shades of The Slow Death and nods towards Evoken, this is a far more subtle affair and for want of a better word, warmer whilst retaining a rich heaviness.

Illimitable Dolor have a stunning album on their hands with this release. A better tribute to a friend and a more honest sharing of emotion would be difficult to find. This will stand as one of the year’s essential doom metal releases.

(9/10 Johnny Zed)