The Drowning – The Radiant Dark (2019) – Review

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I would never have believed it. We got Doom Death Metal bands out there that actually can put a smile on my face. Or at least a sad sneer or something. Because – guess what – with all that rampant doom, you cannot just descend into bliss. But you are condemned to weep in style. This is one ocean of heavily metallic tears rolling our way. Almost at funeral levels to boot.

The RMR blog already had its fair share of all things Death Metal this year, but boy this doom thing really booms in 2019. With the Gates of Hell firmly closed and no deadly Black Metal album on the horizon, we must contend with that. So, down into that doom-ish abyss we must slide, and dwell there until the light shines again.

But that’s a good thing.

Because here we got ourselves a truly merciless delivery of unforgiving downturned guitars. Seconded by growls that are more Noumena than they will ever be Insomnium. A sort of slow-walked doom version of Rogga Johansson with an unholy liking to slowly murdered Heavy Metal chugging. Some sort of Vanha on fucking steroids, and then some. With a few meaty solos that just sent me scrambling for those volume levers to jack up the juice some.

In short, this is doom/death at dark fairy levels after nightfall when the rainstorm rages. And it serves a really juicy record that deserves a truly mighty boom and bang. Plus some funeral-style fireworks, if any slow-motion ones can be had.

Welcome to the refreshingly sad world of The Drowning and their newest album The Radiant Dark. A record that glued my headphones to my ears the first time I let the disk rip loose. And they did not get off until this very last dreary sound tinkered off into the misty yonder. And this happened not once, but – actually – a few times. A chunk of real and overheated metal from the realm of Doomistan. And featuring some pretty well-known names, like Mike Hitchen of My Silent Wake.

The Radiant Dark boasts energy levels of a subdued twister at full tilt. One that – towards the end – will again muster all of its energy and let loose with its sad ferocity. We’re talking about I Carve the Heart from the Universe and Blood Marks My Grave, the two last and pretty epic tracks. Those gorge with acoustics, low-fi riffs, and monologues worthy of, but not originating from, the aforementioned Insomnium. That’s one helluva withered bouquet of black roses, aptly driven forward by Matt Small‘s relentless growls.

The Drowning crafted one of those records, where even the intro gets highest levels of praise. And the following three tracks – The Triumph of the Wolf in Death, Prometheus Blinded and In Cold Earth – net a straight 10/10. The last in line here really got its ice-cold hooks into our flesh, by the way, with its deliciously blackened airs.

Yet again, a less predictable song structure would have done The Radiant Dark a world of good. As it is now, the tracks often appear to be cut from the same or at least a very similar cloth. Which – in essence – is something many Doom Death Metal records suffer from. But make no mistake, this is small potatoes compared to the overall offering.

So, by the terrible and freezing smirk of Hel, where does this leave you, lone traveler of this icy realm?

You’ll get a hodgepodge of solemn doom, terse chugging, and those growls that sometimes come as a dialogue. Add to that some excursions into ambient territory and the aforementioned solos that should not be there at all. All of that does – however – add that trifle spice of artistic freedom that really spiffs up the quality even more.

The Radiant Dark really ripped them power sockets out of the wall and rewired them to this new Death Metal scheme at the highest standards of doom. An outstandingly heavy fare to boot. A goddam kicker that rolled our way, on meaty heavy waves of funeralistic agony. A stellar metal piece, if ever there was one. And one that we could not get enough of.

And one thing is for sure. Esogenesi just got themselves another contender for that coveted spot on the upcoming Top 10. Because this is one of the best, if not THE best Doom Death Metal record we reviewed this year.

So, to all of you trve metalheads out there, go get some. You’re gonna relish that brand of icily sad metal with some real gusto. Trust me on this.

Ed’s note: The record made it onto the 2019 Top 10 records. Congrats!

Record Rating: 9/10 | LabelTranscending Obscurity | Web: Facebook
Release date: 8 November 2019

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