On paper, traditional or ‘true’ doom seems easy to do but to get it right in reality, without merely aping your influences, is a surprisingly difficult trick to pull off, and while there’s always a strong underground for the style, it always feels like it rarely reaches out in the wider world, remaining a connoisseur’s only deal. While not quite out of the shadows of Saint Vitus, Candlemass and the likes, French newcomers (though the band members are scene veterans) Conviction have almost pulled it off on this first album, and done so in a manner that deserves a listen outside of the cloistered world of thee true doom faithful.
Taking their roots in the groundwork laid down by the above mentioned bands, their downtuned approach leans heavily into the gloomier end of the spectrum for the most part, truly capturing a sense of doom, rather than simply offering a more retro take on traditional metal as some bands do. There are hints of this of course – Curse Of The Witch is a more briskly paced affair and Castles Made Of Shame has more of an almost Manilla Road feel with its transition from clean intro, into a mid paced (by doom standards) strut. Strangely these two songs are fine but are the weakest here.
It’s when they allow the melancholy and darkness to overcome them, rather than take the more rocking approach, that Conviction really shine and feel most at home.
The opening riff of Through The Window carries an almost 90s doom death feeling to it, proceeding through some spooky quieter passages and introducing lashes of vocal harmony that really enhance their sound. Indeed on Outworn – the album’s midpoint and absolute best song – those vocal harmonies really shine through and make Conviction stand out above the crowd. The sadness in this song is tangible, and yet when the three part harmonies kick in, it lifts it momentarily. An excellent use of dynamics and an arrow aimed directly at the heartstrings. You’ll come back to this track, I guarantee.
true doom done right…
That comment about the influences I made at the start presents a bit of a conundrum on closer My Sanctuary. Some of the riffs in the opening part are so close to Cathedral’s A Funeral Request as to be borderline plagiarism… but at the same time, if you’re going to borrow, borrow from the best and I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you the song itself wasn’t fantastic. An eleven minute crawl to the grave that finishes with an unexpected and bloodcurdling closing few seconds (if you listen on headphones, brace yourself!), it’s true doom done right.
Conviction‘s name is pretty representative; you can tell from the songwriting and the delivery that this band really have an understanding, and respect, for this genre, and consequently imbue their music with a high degree of care and attention. Though rooted in the past, they aren’t stuck in it, sounding surprisingly fresh, thanks in no small part to the fact that guitarist Frédéric Patte-Brasseur recorded, mixed and mastered it himself.
If you’ve been thinking it’s been too long since you spun that copy of Dark Passages at the back of your collection, then you’ll want to add this to your ‘to buy’ pile pretty sharpish. A very promising start.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes