When I think about the whole death/doom metal scene, I think about bands such as My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost. I remember a time in the early 90s when Peaceville Records roster read as a who’s who of that whole scene. I wasn’t a fan of Paradise Lost at the time, I was more swayed by My Dying Bride, and in particular, the I Am the Bloody Earth EP, which was my baptism into that whole field of obscure hard doom metal. I was a child of the whole thrash and grunge scene, so doom left me a bit cold if I’m honest, it was over the top, theatrical, and too moody and slow to fill the angst and anger in my soul.
When Covid hit, and through the lack of touring bands, I had the chance to delve back in with those bands I had been drawn to in the decades before. In particular it was with My Dying Bride, who I hadn’t really spent a lot of time with, and after seeing them live in the nineties, with The Gathering. The only band that made a mark on that night was The Gathering, so I had overlooked My Dying Bride completely ever since.
It gave me a chance to rediscover that whole death/doom area, and it left me wondering as to why that all seemed to die off, and why there doesn’t seem to be a big cluster of bands still producing that style so much anymore. Imagine my surprise then, to be handed The Slow Death’s new album, Siege. Being given the opportunity to be thrust back into that world, as if I had never left, and find that it’s still very much a living, breathing monster to behold.
After doing a little digging, I found out that The Slow Death are actually an Australian band, who have existed since 2007, and have had three full length albums out previously to this absolute behemoth of a new album. Don’t be fooled, even though its only four tracks, it weighs in at just over an hour of doom-laden goodness, guaranteed to push you to the very limits of fear and despair.
Even before you fire up the stereo (or whichever listening platform you choose to use), based on the artwork, and track titles alone, you know exactly just where things will be heading. The four tracks themselves, Tyranny, Famine, Pestilence, and Ascent Of The Flames, should paint a nightmarish image, that should come with a warning, like an old pirate one, ‘beware, all who enter here’. This hellish soundscape will literally drag you to the brink of insanity, and back again.
Across the four tracks there are moments of foreboding darkness, interlaced with elements of absolutely poignant elegance…
Tyranny opens the opus, and right from the beginning it reminds me of early The Gathering, complete with drawn out passages of opulence, before plunging into the darkness of the abyss below. To best describe the experience would be the words ‘atmospheric’, and ‘otherworldly’. There’s definitely a very ‘European’ feel to it all, so to know that this is an Australian band makes things even more peculiar indeed. As this landscape changes, at around the three-minute mark, it hits me that they are becoming reminiscent of the band Draconian, another recent find for me, and a welcome addition to the proceedings.
Throughout the whole album, there’s a beautiful juxtaposition between Mandy Andresen and Gamaliel’s vocal stylings. Where Andresen hits all of those ethereal highs, Gamaliel’s guttural growls are so low, it’s worth considering if there’s a lot of gravel gargling that goes on, just to hits those demonic low-end growls. At times they are so low, they become part of the mix, and indistinguishable from the background soundtrack completely.
Across the four tracks there are moments of foreboding darkness, interlaced with elements of absolutely poignant elegance. Chugging guitar with death march drumming, perfectly compliment the doomy shoegaze breakdowns, and by the time its ended, the feeling of foreboding darkness has completely washed over me.
It strikes me, as the final moments die away, that this feeling I’m having, its one I hadn’t felt in a long time. The feeling of darkness and despair, pain and anguish, yet euphoria at the same time, is the experience that I only get from this real intense doom death, hell, this ‘funeral doom’ style music. It’s that which has me reminiscing for those bands of old, and that sense of foreboding, that only this style of music brings.
Let’s be straight, this ISN’T car music. This ISN’T ‘doing the vacuuming’ music either. This IS a fully submersive experience and needs to be treated as such. Sit back, in a darkened room, close your eyes, and be taken away by The Slow Death, it’s not for the faint hearted.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish