A weeping willow which this Dutch act name themselves after is a good place to find oneself sitting under and ruminating and it’s hardly surprising that doom is the musical landscape for such contemplation. This quartet have released one very limited album back in 2016 called ‘Departure’ so it would not be very surprising if like me they are completely new to you too. Ruin, misery, grief, fragility are all subjects explored through 5 hefty songs here and the strange album artwork kind of suggests that we have chosen a day without much in the way of sunshine to sit under our favourite tree. Essentially this is a continuous piece of music and one that we are told was recorded without studio magic. This is something I can certainly believe as when the drums boom in after some post rock like acoustic guitar work and spoken word parts courtesy of guest Apostle of Solitude guitarist Steve Janiak. they are at a dense level that is perhaps too loud and muffled. These levels are very much pushed to the limits and hampered my enjoyment of this at first. I guess I have got more used to it since though and the qualities do shine through. The acoustic parts are particularly good and in line with subject matter suitably maudlin and gallops of death doom with craggy vocals hit the mark too. As things develop though the textures are more in line with slow and ponderous funeral doom. Guitarist and vocalist Rens van Herpt has a weathered gruff delivery to match the slow parts and gives a good craggy roar of rage in the faster moments.
As is the nature of the beast there are a couple of lengthy numbers here that are not afraid to draw out the misery for over 10 minutes in length. They naturally develop through sorrowful melodies and draw you into their depths well and just as wretched vocals make the atmosphere all the bleaker what sounds like a gorgeous weave of almost weeping guitar strings strings enrich things giving some hope perhaps? The 12-minute ‘In Ruin And Misery’ does deliver just what it suggests and is an epic number that fans of long and slow music should definitely find themselves absorbed by. Looking up the meaning of third number Myosotis I see pretty pictures of scorpion grass flowers, otherwise known as Forget Me Nots. In line with that the melody has some semblance of romanticism although the vocals elongated and harrowing hardly match the prose of say Wordsworth or Keats. Musically though its actually quite nice without becoming twee and it is even momentarily uplifting. Of course, don’t get complacent, rain and thunder are never going to be far away here. Another thing that should also be mentioned are powerful atmospheres orchestrated via keyboards by another guest, Catía André Almeida of Faal and Fenadorn.
This is incredibly well constructed and shows huge promise and potential. I am tempted to put on headphones and listen to it under a local weeping willow which I have sat under in the past ruminating of the fragility of life; but yeah British weather.. The only complaint really is that I just wish this sounded a bit better and some of those rougher edges had been given a bit of a polish.
(7/10 Pete Woods)