These Swedes have based “Led Into Exile”, their second album on a short story chronicling the abandonment of concrete and street lights for the ruggedness of Finnmark in Central Sweden.
The band fuse elements of doom, sludge and post hardcore on the six tracks but spread it a little thinly. There is plenty of rumbling basslines and jazzy guitar lines to put a pep in the step at the start of the journey but things meander a little of the beaten path.
This band have existed in one guise or another for 25 years with members popping up in Katatonia, Burn the Plague and Oak amongst other bands. They obviously work as slow as the tress grow in Finnmark as only a 2016 EP VI and first album Pathogenisis predate this album. Obviously late bloomers.
Andreas Baiers vocals are the sound of a larynx being torn asunder by gargled glass. Think Nocturno Culto with a bit more doom. Works well with the music which switches pace several times to keep things interesting.
Plenty of post rock stargazing moments on the album amongst the big riffs but this album is a bit tangled – I suppose a bit like the terrain it celebrates.
The tracks meld together which is unsurprising for a concept album and this is definitely a grower not a shower. Interesting to hear a vibraphone used – not something I can say I have heard much in the world of Sludge and Doom. It certainly penetrates the quieter moments on Hostage of Souls.
“None Shall Rise Again” is a surprise acoustic number for an album so sonically powerful. Unfortunately, the singing and the guitar seem at odds with each other cancelling out either melody. It kinda makes me think of a doom metal David Brent. The vibraphone does get another airing though!
The track that came before it however is a doom death stonker named after the old technique of using lanterns to create spooky theatre. “Phantasmagoria” could have leapt straight out of the My Dying Bride Playbook but with harsh rasping vocals. Bloody lovely. Plenty of drama and melancholy with funereal riffs from Baier and his fellow guitarist Jonas Gryth. Marcus Lindqvist (who also plays vibraphone btw) drops the dirty bassline whilst Daniel Liljekvist hammers home the deathly dirge on the drums.
The title track mixes up doom death with some quirky jazzy time signatures and high-pitched synths. Kinda fun but a bit genre soup for me. The vibraphone comes out again and appears to be playing Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther at one point!
The album has a few good ideas but like a lot of cooks they have over spiced when making this sludgy broth. When the good stuff surfaces like Phantasmagoria it tastes great!
(5/10 Matt Mason)