Although I’m writing about this in the summertime the Damp Chill Of Life is never far away waiting to cast its arthritic pall on proceedings. Masters of depressive and atmospheric doomed blackness, USA based shadowy entities None are back with their 3rd album. Thanks to label Hypnotic Dirge they have been casting their cold misery on me since 1st self-titled album in 2017 and with ‘Life Has Gone On Long Enough’ following in 2018 it seems like there is enough sorrow to spread on a yearly basis. We might not know exactly who is in the (rumoured to be a duo) band but they certainly seem to have a quick working ethos. The excellent nature inspired frosty and pine-scented artwork sets things up perfectly, even on the hottest day, one look at it is enough to make one shiver and the music is waiting just behind it to chill the listener to the bone. Fear not though there is a heated glow within for those who make it inside and stoke a fire, some may fall to the elements to freeze and remain till the great thaw but there is a bit of hope here and the gorgeous tones and melody of the music may yet warm the cockles.
After gradually fading into this barren wilderness courtesy of a short atmospheric instrumental we arrive at the mammoth 10 minute title track. It’s a journey that is instantly mesmerising catching you like startled deer caught in headlights on a deserted road before the vehicle ploughs into it bringing doom to nature and its trespasser. Atmospheric doom is the musical mainframe but when the vocals gradually rasp in the blackness is delivered with a barren and misanthropic sense of gloom and hate. Melody is strong and involving, this is not fast but the pace is gentle as it slowly crushes the will to exist burying you in its folds. The tempo picks up and drums power away, the sombre tones envelope and the slow death of what we have arrived at has its beauty as everything decays. Tracks are allowed to flow into each other without pause making this a numbing continuous piece of music and ‘Cease’ is at first a minimalistic piece of throbbing drone with piano keys being singly hit before the great wilderness is confronted and everything drops into place with cinematic clarity. The grace of the keyboard work here is excellent and the move from fragility to the full body of the track is handled with poise and precision. Vocals coming in is the icing on the frosty cake and the whole thing is lush as it sparkles and gleams.
I have no idea what it was but ‘You Did A Good Thing’ strikes as a moonlight sonata with keyboard calming things right down and providing a midway point along with some sudden spoken samples adding an argumentative DSBM feel to the otherwise placid piece. ‘It’s Painless To Let Go’ continues this narrative, challenging to question the pain of existence with fuzzy guitars trembling with the essence of Burzum and a sudden drop into the depths of sorrow with howling heartfelt vocal cries and mesmerising melody. With languid guitar solo and poetic verse this pretty much is a master-class of depressiveness and although the album MUST be listened to as a whole is possibly its pinnacle point. Acoustic fretwork and Morricone Western keyboard melody build a gorgeous bridge paving the way from ‘I Yearn To Feel’ to final number ‘A Chance I’d Never Have’ and yes the song-titles may suggest shuffling off this mortal coil the best solution but don’t be pushed into hanging up that gun quite yet, if you have made it this far your days of slinging are not yet over. Besides that would mean missing the finale, which is a fittingly glorious one.
Everything about this album is pretty much perfect right down to its 44 minute running time. None have yet again proven class and majesty and reminded that winter is just round the corner in the process. Embrace the sun going out below.
(8/10 Pete Woods)