THE 11th HOUR
Burden Of GriefNapalm 2009
I have quite an odd relationship with all things doom. It's odd in the sense that I mostly can't listen to doom metal at all and yet sometimes I find some doom metal absolutely gripping me in it's sheer melodic desperateness. Some people understand and like to wallow in the miseries that a good doom metal song can bring and I am the opposite more or less. I tend to like the happier end of the doom scale if that's not an oxymoron which I'm sure it probably is. In any case this leads us on to The 11th Hour and their debut album Burden of Grief.
First of all can I say that The 11th Hour is a great name for a doom metal band. It fits well with the general finality and the closeness to the end of life that the genre suggests. The band is mostly a solo project from Ed Warby who is in a ton of old school death metal outfits, with help from a few of his friends to round out the band.
The first thing I noticed about the album was the fantastic production. This particular type of distortion is more the type of sound you would hear in many of Ed's regular death bands but sounds totally at home and immense on this album. Obviously the speed has been slowed right down to a crawl to suit the mood as well. There are two vocal styles used, as you might guess one is a sorrowful clean wail and the other a deep heavy growl provided by one of his band mates in Demuirg, Rogga Johnsson. The clean vocal is actually very good, although with not quite enough personality as a Messiah Marcolin or Robert Lowe but still pretty deep and rich. The growl is your regular roar that you normally hear on Swedish death metal records.
The music is based around pedestrian riffs, rolling ultra slowly from chord to chord whilst allowing both vocal styles to intertwine and meld deep sorrowful mantras. The thing that makes doom metal quite hard to get into for me is this factor of 'nothing happening' as songs progress. The legends of doom Candlemass, whilst slow, always had many cool tempo changes which spices up songs no end. The 11th Hour sticks to the slow, lurching doom whilst adding layers of reverb and distortion over the top to give this epic grand feeling. It can be quite hard going to tell the truth as there are only 6 songs on this cd and the songs are epic drawn out affairs which tends to mean my concentration starts to waver.
The riffs in general are not particularly catchy and the vocal melodies whilst polished are not of the variety that engraves itself on your brain. The mood of the album is pure doom and despair though so will sit well with doom aficionados all round. If Mr. Warby had incorporated a few time changes within the songs then this would have been a far more palatable release personally speaking. The song "Weep For Me" is perhaps my favourite as it features a pretty haunting vocal performance with a desperate atmosphere and lush keys which reminds me of My Dying Bride quite a bit. In fact any fan of MDB needs to listen to this album pronto as there is much that is common between the two bands.
The execution on this album is pretty much perfect whilst the production is also highly professional. The only thing that holds me back from offering better marks is the lack of engagement between me and the songs. They just don't hit the sweet spots that Candlemass can do but this is still a very decent stab at the doom metal game. Doomheads who love love to wallow in their own misery can totally immerse themselves in this album and will be overwhelmed with it I would guess.
© Pirage Forsi
Rating ***1/2 (3.5/5.0) Buy at Amazon