Doom metal, as a whole, is an artful genre to play. It takes real talent and taste to keep it interesting, especially when tracks reach more than ten minutes. Descend into Despair, with their third full length, have proven themselves one of the better bands at it. They are back with their first full length since “Synaptic Veil”, a great album to follow. With such a marvellous track record, this new release is something to behold.
The new album, “Opium”, was released on May 31st, 2020 via Funere Label.
Descend into Despair have an excellent sense of how to make their songs flow, even when they feature the same riff idea stretched out. They know how to layer sounds on top and beneath each other so that instead of inaction, we feel more content and meaning. So, it was just the right time for this album to follow, let’s just say that I was ready for some quality doom metal. Thankfully, on “Opium” we get that quality doom metal.
The three songs of “Opium” keep what makes this band distinctive: heavy riffs and intriguing melodies. It sounds and feels familiar, sure, but it’s a bit of comfort when a band does not fix what isn’t broke in the first place.
The first thing that stands out from the first chords of this release, is the compelling atmosphere. Each track is an exercise in sonic imagery, creating worlds and playing out lives through waves alone; I may not be a doom metal expert, but my imagination speaks music, and when I listen to Descend into Despair I hear descending progressions and masterful harmonies. Soothing chords climbs the walls of empty halls as the sun sets for the last time in the choking stagnant air.
On the first track, “ensh[r]ine”, a slow, hypnotic chant transpose the listener into a serene and introspect scenery. Everything is feeling in this song and, as the voice of Tara Vanflower follows its euphonic cadence, the first metallic riffs disrupts the air, only to add a more dramatic effect to the scene. The song is a metaphor that evokes beginnings, as the mother voice sings a contemplative poem to an unborn child. The pristine canticle is scattered with powerful growls and spacious atmospheres, creating an extent that is both chaotic and serene, all at once. The songwriting here is emotionally rich, with the group being able to layer different feelings deep into their sound. The listener is welcomed to find the personal meaning of this substantial perception.
“Antumbra”, the second track of the album, stands for the metaphorical nature of the light. The song embodies the nature of a solar eclipse. Eclipses, revered and feared, are these agents of change that can also help break patterns and shift dynamics. As a mystical perspective, eclipses are tied to our past lives, karmic paths and soul mission and this song give us a glimpse into the “shadow self.” Creating a suite of devastating emotional destruction, the album keeps you wrapped in an intense dream world that you fear you may never awaken, while the band alternates between ideal landscapes and reclusive worlds. These three songs will fill you with such a wondrous dread, it may, in fact, give you peace in the end. Dirgeful and bizarrely reflective bells and piano, swirling choir vocals are skilfully incorporated in “dis[re]member”, the last part of the trilogy. This is a hypnotizing blur with some prominent riffs that will tear you apart. This last song brings you down to your absolute emotional core, with a depressive tone that strips away all hope.
Distressed vocals tear through a dreamscape of crushing riffs and pounding drums. The melodic guitars on this track are a particular standout, calling back to the melancholy of the first song. The atmosphere is coal black. The crushing weight of this masterpiece will make you love every single second of it. And, in the end, everything becomes silence, as in the beginning, this, making the album a circular, perpetual sphere.
Let this release transform you. Let the rhythms tear you apart while the atmospheres hold you together. Let the vocals take you on their magical journey to shape your path “through the cycle of light and darkness, even when our very remembrance is eroded.” I hope you enjoy this, I know that I did.
The cover art is again a special work. Xander Coza, (who took the photo), was inspired by Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” when he mixed the techniques for the artwork.
I must admit I was impressed by the depth of the songwriting and the care that this release is surrounded by. This album has everything a doom metal fanatic would possibly want. If you are looking for well-crafted lyrics and sublime riffs this album has all of the above and more. Descend into Despair have managed to mix everything one might want in a doom metal release.
Descend into Despair
funeral doom metal from Romania.
Release date – May 31, 2020 label Funere. Catalog: FUNERE-08 300 limited copies. 6-panel digipak, CD.