Regarded as one of the pioneers of the infamous funeral doom genre, Skepticism has a long history of making heavy as fuck music at the slowest possible pace. The band has been around for almost 25 years and strikes a chord again with new album Ordeal.
It’s been seven years since the previous record Alloy came out to a generally good reception. The album did a lot for the band in cementing their reputation as one of the pillars of the doom genre and iconic in their unique sound. To listen to their new album therefor is not something to do lightly on a sunny summer day. You’re almost required to let yourself be buried with only an ipod, playing this record while locked in a coffin.
That immediately gives way to the feeling of the album, which is clean, polished and dead, like a forgotten city that has not yet collapsed into ruin. The building untarnished by the ages, weeds kept at distance and no traces of graffiti. The darkened halls with just small beams of light shining into them, breaking the darkness like fiery lances. That’s a lot like how much of this record sounds.
There are a few passages that are distorted, ugly and abrasive, those rare outbursts are few and only add to the overall atmosphere of depressed loss. Clean tones enter through the keys telling the story, joined by the low, guttural vocals. The languid guitar tones may carry the procession, but through their majesty there is always a hint of a grim background, something sinister and doomed.
Something that may be puzzling for the listeners is the clapping after some of the songs. The album was in fact recorded live, in front of an audience. That explains a certain tension and eagerness to the sound. On a song like The Departure you feel that energy as the pace changes, swells and lashes out. The ragged sound of The Road and its switch to wailing tones, it all feels so much more convincing. A live recording has certain risks, but in this case it seems to have bolstered the sound of the Fins.
Ordeal has become a Skepticism record through and through. Cold, grey but always with a hint of romantic bravado and passion. It’ll not bring the genre to a bigger crowd, but anyone who has love for the droning sound of sadness should give this one a spin. Its undisturbed, slow trod is a twisted pleasure to the ear.
Scribed by: Guido Segers