You know it’s been a god-long time since I had any true doom to review. It’s all 70s flare botherers and sludgy death these days. This was doubly gratefully received as Death The Leveller rose from the ashes of Irish epic metal band Mael Mordha whom I adored. Not that I was expecting Mael Mordha mark two, mind. No, I knew this was a fresh beginning with members of Cursed Earth added to the mix
I missed I, but II opens with ‘The Hunt Eternal’. A strained guitar wails and a slow, haunting melody begins bass heavy and clear. The riff comes in, heavy and steady and the vocals are strong, clean and rich. I’m immediately thinking of Wall Of Sleep here with their aching, soulful grasp of melody circa Sun Faced Apostles but with a blend of Mirror Of Deception and Warning in slightly lighter mode or The River. In short, its moving, effortlessly enthralling and true soul-searching doom. The song has a pull to it, a tidal flow where the vocals reach out across the slow waves and drag you in. Frankly this is glorious. The depth the song displays and the grasp of melody is just superb and it’s one hell of a start; ten minutes of emotional, dark music.
‘The Golden Bough’ next has a bleak melodic opening of a simple refrain and the vocals rising up through it, bringing in the desolate riff. It’s a showcase of how less can be as intense as more, how to bring the vocals full centre on the rise of the music. It almost unnoticed builds the pressure, trapping you until the shift in tempo takes over. It continually feels on the edge here, the emotions fraying before your eyes in an almost new wave manner. It holds your attention so fully that twelve minutes slide by before you realise that you have barely breathed.
‘So They May Face The Rising Sun’ steps in next. I guess in some way it reminds me a little of first album 40 Watt Sun; a beautiful, introspective and personal journey, deceptive in its simplicity, stunning in its ability to hold your heart in your mouth. Again, the melody is beautifully woven around the vocals riff and the arrangement pretty much perfect. Romantic, bereft, full of soul.
Finally comes ‘The Crossing’. A sombre closing. Guitar strumming, turning to heavy chords with a simple melody but again that intensity. Again, that little touch of something close to post-rock or even new wave but never overstepping that line.
A little under 40 minutes and they are gone. Again, a lesson for others; four songs, forty minutes. All they need to say. The production here is also worthy of mention, as it is simple and relaxed, allowing the music to spread and flood your world. If you have a love of melodic, introspective doom in the strange crossover world where first album 40 Watt Sun meets Wall Of Sleep and Mirror Of Deception then you need this. And frankly so do a lot more of you. Class, dexterous arrangements, emotional delivery. It gets very little better than Death The Leveller.