What marches majestically across this stony, desert-dry Doom Death Metal soundscape? A thing that loudly creeps about its darkened realm at almost funeral speed.
And as our inner eye watched it and listened to its drone, the RMR deck crew here waited for that good ol’ bell to toll. And indeed, we later heard its terrible voice emerging from those depths of distress and sadness.
Well, that’s the first and somewhat murky impression we had once Aphonic Threnody led off with their newest record The Great Hatred. All flags set to half-mast, and straight down those darkly ominous pathways they chose to explore.
The album always generates that dark, grey plain in front of my eyes, but one cloaked in strange mists. This is the place that will forever hide the steely-clawed monsters that lurk in their folds, ready to devour anything that passes by in striking distance.
And it’s interesting. Here we have (yet) another duo that will step over the rotting bodies of their long-dead comrades. Just to inject some teary, new life into a genre that often turned out to be too austere for its own good.
And that is a good thing, by the way.
Black Trillium went first this year, and brilliantly so with a story of deportation and despair. So, here’s the question: Will Aphonic Threnody be able to live up to that specific standard?
Well, if you are looking for an answer to this question, just fire up Locura. Its meaty and slow-marching beat will immediately convince you. This is a whole heap of talent that crushingly rumbles down at you. And the band doesn’t mince words. But – instead – just lurches off to that dreary yonder they occupy. A great start to The Great Hatred with a brand of funeral doom that just shook me awake.
The influences are legion on this record, though. And this – of course – is an indicator that the band will feed the beast rather than take the blue door and explore unknown grounds. But don’t get me wrong, such ruthlessness may actually be all good. It is exceedingly difficult for a band to find that new niche these days. The metal multiverse indeed is an overloaded metal jungle of often interwoven sub-genres.
And thus, The Great Hatred record projects a lot of earlier Paradise Lost1), some My Dying Bride, with a goodly portion of Officium Triste in the midst of the fray. In other words, the band did not necessarily invent the Wheel of Doom. But – by Loki – they mixed this stuff well, with a few additions of their own. A record that craftily taketh from its age-old early masters at times. But it will never forget its very own message.
Yet, already Imagination, the second track, blew us away. Its ten-minute-plus length may seem daunting at first, but fear not. They just throw the desk at their fanbase. From fine-threaded Death Doom Metal with its throaty bass to that aforementioned terrible bell that tolls all over again like a death knell, it’s all there.
The Great Hatred – the title track – loses a bit of steam, though. Yet, the changes in tempi and this artful inclusion of some pseudo violin sounds kinda save the day. And from this point onwards, it’s full steam ahead, like some alternate Titanic on its quest for yet another iceberg.
Aphonic Threnody sport that uncanny knack to beef a traditionally boring Funeral Doom soundscape up with those stellar and strangely melodic riffs. Something we relished all over the record and couldn’t quite get enough of. The changes from somewhat watery Alcest-ish clears2) to those throaty growls, interspersed with acoustics and a few ambients, should probably satisfy any dark urge of the metal adept.
But finally, The Great Hatred showcases an artistic artifice that may well push other bands of bigger renown back into the ranks. This is an artfully crafted piece, no doubt. Aphonic Threnody injected a cohesion and flow into the mix that other bands in this genre often miss. A record that takes no prisoners and steadily remains at a level of mastery that will be difficult to match going forward.
A band to be watched, they’ll be going places. Soon.
Get dat tune: