Oathbreaker – Eros|Anteros
Oathbreaker’s second album Eros|Anteros is the follow-up to 2011’s Maelstrom, an album that firmly placed the Belgian hardcore band, and members of the Ra collective, firmly on the map. Releasing the record through Deathwish Inc. certainly helped too. While Maelstrom was a vicious and unrelenting piece of work, riddled with scything riffs and scorched earth vocals from Caro Tanghe, it displayed a more reserved side at times, heard on its title track. This dynamic is explored much more so on Eros|Anteros, though make no mistake, the fierce likes of ‘Condor Tongue’ and ‘Nomads’ still make up the bulk of the record. However, the expansive nine minute ‘The Abyss Looks Into Me’ and the meandering ‘Agartha’ show a band taking melodic cues from their peers and contorting their established sound into something new. Eros|Anteros is a frustrated record in some regards as the Belgians seem determined to try something new and while solid, it feels much more indicative of things to come rather than a statement of what they are now.
Ataraxie – L’Être et la Nausée
French death/doom maestros Ataraxie have finally released the follow-up to 2008’s Anhédonie but special mention must be made of the band’s appearance on Irish soil; a stunningly evocative set at Dublin Doom Days 2012, which proved to be one of the fest’s highlights once the dust had settled. Now they have released their newest full-length L’Être et la Nausée, a devastating trip into the murky abyss of death and funeral doom. At nearly 80 minutes, Ataraxie have taken an expected route for epic death/doom but it’s by no means predictable as the band’s crushing dirges of lead guitars that recall Mourning Beloveth and scathing throaty vocals from Jonathan Théry that are equally harrowing as they are invigorating, is all overwhelming. This densely layered piece of work is perfected by bursts of death metal blasts peppered throughout that perfectly complement the snail’s pace doom that makes up the majority of the album. ‘Face The Loss of Your Sanity’ is one such empowering dirge that’s indicative of the entire record; one of 2013’s very best in doom.
MSW – Cloud: Musica Pro Lapsu
In a totally different realm we have MSW from Salem, Oregon’s Hell. With this project and its new cassette release Cloud: Musica Pro Lapsu, he has left behind the sludgy misanthropic doom of Hell but still very much maintained a funereal tone. Cloud is largely a piano piece, spliced with faint vocal textures, layers of strings and vague distant guitars. “This album is not metal but heavy” says the self-applied description and the dense ambience certainly attests to this. With two ten minute elegies of reflective atmospherics, Cloud is a listen to completely lose one’s self in in a dark room, left only with your thoughts. Harrowing and equally beautiful.