Like a woman making a dress entirely out of used paper plates, like a particularly passionate man constructing a car entirely from tax receipts, you would best describe To Take Up The Cross as being an album that is clearly very dedicated to what it does – unfortunately, what it does is perhaps not hugely interesting.
Yeah, so, certainly it’s a very dismal album – I do wonder if I would’ve enjoyed this album more in my angrier late teens, when I was listening to as much black/doom as I could find. Amidst the crunching rhythm guitars, despondent, forever-ringing arpeggios, and the eccentric vocals – half croon, half yell, with some extra screaming and growling, there’s a fairly powerful atmosphere, no denying that. Sometimes a bit Candlemassish, other times leaning closer to a fairly monolithic Skepticism kind of tundra death marsh, with a bit of black metal (the doomier parts of Forgotten Tomb spring to mind) rearing its head now and then, it’s a powerful sound, well and truly dismal.
Unfortunately for me (and to paraphrase a Metal Archives reviewer), “dismal” is not really a terribly engaging emotion. It’s certainly not as interesting as “depressing”, let alone “tormented”. It does paint a fairly good picture or having a really hard time in a particularly bleak industrial area, but unfortunately that isn’t, in my opinion, a particularly interesting picture. Look, they undeniably know what they’re doing – there’s a really good use of tremelo picked leads here and there throughout the album, but they’re staying plugged into this one, not terribly fascinating mood, and it really drags after a while.
The solution would be, simply put, tempo changes and perhaps some more interesting riffs. Everything’s plodding along in that fairly standard slow doom thing here – the drums never getting out of the quarter time feel, a big snare every few bars, that sorta thing – and it would be really cool to see them speed things up a bit and get things a bit angrier, a bit more tormented, a bit more… spirited. Similarly, there’s a tendency for almost every rhythm guitar part to consist solely of big, chunking chords, with little in the way of riffs or interesting rhythmic variation. It’s a thing that really plagues super slow, super feelsy doom, and Latitude Egress are similarly guilty. I always think back to Thergothon – now there was a band that was extremely slow but knew how to write an interesting fucken riff or two.
Yeah look, I didn’t really enjoy this and at the end of the day it can be put it down to two things –
1) The weather, here in Australia, is far too nice and I’m basically too happy for this sort of music at the moment
2) The soundscape is too samey for too long, without enough interesting guitar work
Give it a curio listen if you like stuff that’s super slow and a bit of a trudge. Otherwise, To Take Up The Cross can be avoided without any real qualms.
Scribed by: Caspian Yurisich