While Morbid Angel releases albums in alphabetical order, Nile’s lyrics revolve around the Egyptian heritage, and Baroness is obsessed with colors, Pierre Laube expresses one of his virtues through unique illustrations of his nightmares painted black and green. There is more to the cover art than the eye could see on first impression. Every corner of the picture puts another wrinkle on the face of horror―thus grabbing the deeply rooted atmosphere of the music.
You won’t have to gaze at the cover for too long to think of Anne Frank in the first place, although it would be wrong to conclude that Anna is a reference to a single person. Anna stands for each and every child who suffered and died in wars generated by religious and political fanaticism. I, myself, have always believed that it is only children’s perspective that we can call crystal clear. They are the ones who can still make a sharp difference between good and bad, and whose eyes are not yet obscured by the veil of interests and ideologies. Their unaffected innocence and the heartfelt honesty deriving from it are attributes too precious to be seen dying without the inevitable stabbing pain it causes. Anatomizing such themes, one could hardly compose music within the frames of any comfort zone. The incredibly inspired German Doomed, a death/doom band with disquiet spirit, continues where they left off with Wrath Monolith, that is: on the top. It is also commendable that Laube cares little about wasting time with splits, EPs and whatnot, as he knows that he needs an entire album to be able to build up the required ambience.
The first few listens sifted through the cherished familiarity of the impeccable Wrath Monolith album, so I had to give the record some time to extend its wings. I listened to it almost every day in the course of two weeks before writing the review. This amount of time would have been enough to force myself to like it or even to get bored with it, but in fact, every listen raised the barbed wire fence higher and higher around Anna, and the deeper I submerged into the songs, the deeper the sharp edges pierced her fragile body. There is no doubt that I am talking about one of the best releases this year, the proof of which are myriad in the album’s seven songs. Pierre Laube has come up with astounding, thumping themes in a style that he can call his own, still being able to touch rarely visited depths and include new elements.
The record is the opposite of what is called “boring.” Every time I listen to it, vivid images are rolling in front of my eyes, and I can’t say the same about every record out there. Snapshots of the simple man’s agony and terror in a country engaged in warfare, orphans tumbling through ruins in a town that has been bombed, and the thousands of black and white pictures of children immortalized on tombstones: this is the world this music is doomed to explore.
The first moments reveal recordings as if from 1940s, some spine-chilling sounds of the bass, human steps, and despair, only to be followed by the vivification of guitar strings in a subtle, devious and intricate manner. The incredibly heavy death/doom substratum upon which the rest of the music is built is downright intimidating. At times the album soars at high speed toward annihilation, at other times plods slowly on tank treads, cracking the bones of the fallen. The album’s embellishments show up at every step of the 50 minutes. If I were to illustrate the feeling created by the small, yet significant, even lavish elements, I would compare it to sitting in a dark, ancient cemetery. At first, you see nothing, except darkness, but soon there will be candles lighting up, illuminating the trees, graves, wreaths, and the names on the tombstones. The beautiful sight creates an elegiac, yet heart-warming, and to some extent frightening ambiance, tangible enough to be felt, but too elusive to describe.
Such melodies can only be written by one who hears them erupt from one’s own inner self. The serpentine, creeper-like melodies, which weave through the record, endow the songs with an extra feature. The closing moments of the short and ultraslow title track are capable of incarnating fear itself, but the real face of madness is first revealed in the song called As the Thoughts Began to Be Tarnish. The track gives way to tunes so sick that―combined with the massive riffs―one could hardly gasp for air. Moreover, the song can also be proud of the beautiful solo it contains. The 10-minute long The Weeping Trees starts with the mournful sound of the violin. This is the track that features Daniela Laube on vocals, her voice intensifying the dramatic aspect of the song. It is worth paying attention to a different facet each time you listen to the record, in order to detect the meticulous arrangements of the bass guitar, as well.
My favorite song is called Withering Leaves. Piano tunes float over sullen, somber melodies, and there is something in the background, which appears to be an old, rather cheerful, German recording, a grotesque compound, I must add. Whatever you’ve been through up to this point, you can’t prepare for what’s coming next. A riff-giant engages in destruction similar to carpet-bombing, leaving only people torn apart and craters behind. The subsequent (dis)harmonies are only to be followed with a touch of insanity as the visions they create are projected by horror.
Here is another Doomed record that extends the barriers of the death/doom genre, is progressive in its true meaning, and shows proof of abundant creativity. I do hope that this generous source of inspiration won’t dry out any time soon.