We had only just been ravaged by Belgium multi-instrumentalist Déhà’s latest album under the Merda Mundi moniker when Slow’s 6th opus dropped in and the two discs could not be further apart. The former play caustic black metal with anti-humanist themes and Slow a project helmed with vocalist Lore play things at a much more sedentary pace, but you probably guessed that anyway. Déhà obviously likes to mix things up and play many different styles being in over 20 groups including Cult Of Erinyes, Veer and We All Die (Laughing) to name just a few and Slow have built up a lot of respect in funeral doom circles with a solid foundation of albums prior to this one. Album V Oceans was my last encounter with them back in July 2017 and I was certainly looking forward to submerging myself in the duo’s depths once more. First question I had to address was the album title and meaning and a quick look tells me that Dantalion a powerful great duke of hell in Demonology. So, after trying to drown us last time around perhaps Slow are going to throw us in a fiery pit?
Well naturally as per the genre, the album is monstrous coming in at a humungous 78-minute running time and tracks are long and ponderous even on opener ‘Descente’ dropping us into the pit at a mere 5 minutes but holding a huge amount of depth and gravity. Slow crushing and weighty drums and bass pound and snares clash as the weathered vocals coarsely roar away, everything elongated and stretched out. We have gone from water to fire elementary as translated tracks contest and Glow, throws us to Gehenna, leave us wallowing in futility and spark and Incendiary flame for good measure. The music crushes with the first number continuing into the second without change of note for the next 17 minutes or so. Gradually an orchestral sound seeps in from the background and everything oh so slowly rises. It’s all done in its own damn time though and considering this dropped on my reviewing pile at the same time as the even more gargantuan Esoteric album its been a week where I feel like I have been slowly consumed. But poise and majesty and wonderfully mournful sounds have made this all so sweet and it’s obvious over repeated listens that Slow are masters of their craft and this is a hugely atmospheric and dense work. Of-course patience is a virtue and if you don’t have that musically this is probably your idea of hell in more ways than one. Listen beneath the layers and hear some angelic choral vocals and strings wafting away, it could be in my imagination and that itself is enriched as this takes you to strange worlds and fantastic places. Piano is used to temper things down a little and its mournful flow along with whispered vocals sends a shiver down the spine.
Never a particularly easy genre to review as each and every change throughout lengthy passages is subtle and will find you digging deep for it the best thing is to just let the music carry you off and thoughts to wander with it. We do so with various shifts and changes with definition found in certain areas such as a guitar slowly sprawling out at the start of a track like Futilité and a moribund melody weeping out and touching the listener in line with the title of the song. But there are moments of hope within it all too despite the depressive nature of the beast and gothic guitar may not put the fun in funereal but are somewhat life-affirming as they glisten and weave away; the overall feel is definitely elegiac. Lacune sees motion overflowing suddenly with cascading piano work, symphonics and guitar reaching a crescendo. Compared to earlier there is a veritable smorgasbord to fixate on even when it slows down again, due to some additional poetic female dialogue in the background. But the best is still to come with Incendiaire, a huge and epic mass designed to practically bend you over in grief and doom. It has been well worth the wait to get to these two tracks and although the journey has been a weary one you are left feeling ultimately invigorated. The leonine roars reach peaks of anger and Slow have actually gone and done the near unimaginable and by their standards gone Fast; knocking the listener off their feet in the process. Be warned dipping in on this track alone would be a crime akin to watching the end of a film or a chapter of a book, the whole journey is essential and the track finishes with a veritable hammer-smash not far off delivering blunt-force-trauma. The perfect conclusion BUT there is a 16-minute number Elégie left and yes, an elegy is just what we get here. I can see the temptation of skipping this as such previous gravitas and feeling of a finale has been left with you due to the preceding opus but again, I feel that too would be wrong. Besides some acoustic plainsong is probably just what you need to recover here before drawn in to play all over again…
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)