Taking into account their past and their significance in general, it’s as if the Greeks considered submerging into the epic doom metal a duty of some kind. I have come to this conclusion by taking a look at the number of bands playing the genre. Having said that, the flourishing doom underground in Athens and Thessaloniki rarely reach the desired threshold, which would get them better known on the international scene. It’s been as long as decades that bands revolving around ancient history and mythology appear and disappear on a high rate. Making progress is not easy and a great deal of them fail (Attic Dreams, Lava, Heliots, Mystic Moon, Stargazer and others). They very often end their career after releasing a hardly attainable demo. Fortunately, there are more persistent attempts. As a result, the band called The Temple has finally managed to release a debut album after changing their name, and releasing a demo. Ominous Sky is about to be doing the same feat. Litany counts as a veteran company with the second full record on their résumé, having been around since 2000 with very little change in their line-up. The band consists of a group of friends with an inner urge to play music—as expected from a true epic doom metal outfit—whose primary goal is definitely not mass production. However, if so happens that others enjoy what they do, even better. Their first album came out back in 2008, the one-hour long Aphesis: The Sapience of Dying, concealing nine epic doom metal tracks behind a mysterious artwork. I recommend it to orthodox doom metal fans like myself. I truly cherish the album, and it has become a favourite of late.
The follow-up release, Pyres of Lamentation, indicates a similar point of view and the same attitude by bringing forth certain formulas—exclusively representative of this particular outfit. Litany is capable of conjuring up the epic nature of Candlemass as well as the more varied, meticulous song structure of Solitude Aeternus, although an acoustic section or a touch of ferocity, even growls can occasionally turn up. The less catchy, but still expressive artwork stands for 11 tracks sunk deep in doom metal for the same die-hard fans to enjoy for an hour or so. The songs were written throughout a larger period, so time slowly ripened them for us to have a proper bite. For instance, the opening Niobe has long been available, it was one of the three promo songs released in 2011. It is not accidental that this 9-minute epos was given the privilege to create the first impression of the album. It is highly decisive as to who will keep on listening to the record afterwards. Lush guitar themes and Nick Varsamis’ (Wrathblade) familiar and highly recognizable voice profusely provide us with more than we could cope with, right in the very beginning.
The remarkably accomplished Firewaters undisputedly proves that it was worth waiting for the record. Astounding guitar riffs, elevated ambiance, and luckily, shorter playtime characterize the song, due to which it might become a favourite at gigs. The track called Rites of Passage has also been released before, so that rings familiar, as well. The pleasant flow and placidity of the start gives way to a more abrasive chorus heated with aggression. It’s hard to resist headbanging, so credit must be given to this duality, which makes it one of the best songs on the album. The harsh approach is carried on by Psykhe, a much faster track from the start. Like a battle hymn, it stands out from the rest of the songs, enriched with fragmented rhythms and a heavy solo. With Abjuration we return to the typically dreamy doom atmosphere. Its original sound and added finesse reinforce the otherwise ironclad conviction in me that epic doom metal can be varied and imposing. Bellerophon's Doom is the song that came out first to promote the album, a monumental essence of what Litany is about—with arborescent structure and a great amount of studio time invested into it. There surely was a reason why this particular composition was leaked first to represent the whole record. It is a remarkable piece, somewhat similar to the previous album’s more direct and airy approach when compared with the other—way more demanding—songs.
The Curse would be a good example of the latter, a concise and serpentine track, constantly undulating, with themes to segue into each other, despite its brevity. A time travel into the past is done with The Lowest Form of Evil Subtlety, where music flows along classic doom elements for nearly 7 minutes. This one is a bit samey, though still enjoyable. Furies, on the other hand, sets the bar high again, and shows how Litany plays doom metal at its best. The closing monster is preceded by Infinites with its evoking sounds, a proper overture for the unfettered, progressive-ish Spaces, which puts the icing on the cake. Snapping bass, mid-tempo and familiar choruses stretch towards the infinite as the song slows down, softens and goes quiet.
The journey I hereby recommend is not a smooth one. Embark on it only if you enjoy digging deep into epic doom metal coming from the underground, and not from the Swedish gods. Members of Litany invested arduous work and perseverance into finding their own voice and releasing their new record, which speaks of devotion and sincerity. Its length might discourage some people, so beware, it takes a few proper listens for the album to open up. Overall, it definitely deserves a steady 8 out of 10, or maybe even more with time…
The album is available in its entirety on YouTube and on Bandcamp.