Death-Doom Metal has always been an intriguing notion. Taking the breakneck speed to which death metal is played and ramming it into the crushing trudge of doom metal may seem like the equivalent of putting water on a gas fire, but history has shown that when done right, it can create some of metal’s darkest moments. Death-Doom has also spurned the creation of one of metal’s heaviest genres, Funeral Doom Metal. Colossal bands like the UK’s Esoteric and Paradise Lost as well as Australia’s disEMBOWELMENT are just a few of the early progenitors to this Death-Doom/Funeral Doom sound and continue to exist in this medium of bleak fusion in one way or another.
While bands like Esoteric and Paradise Lost are still active today, disEMBOWELMENT split in 1993. While only releasing one full-length album (plus a couple demos and an EP) during their existence, the Aussies had an impact on the Death-Doom genre that still lingers within modern music. disEMBOWELMENT’s personnel certainly would not go away either. Half of the now-defunct group, drummer Paul Mazziotta and bassist-turned-guitarist Matthew Skarajew, formed d.USK in 2011 with guitarist Mark Cullen and vocalist Ben James. d.USK would ultimately become Inverloch later that year and release an EP entitled Dusk | Subside in 2012.
Inverloch (with added bassist Chris Jordon) just released their debut full-length album, Distance | Collapsed, last week through Relapse Records. It is a five-song, forty-minute display of dirge and deathly double kick drums. Much of the album shifts from death metal to doom metal as the songs pass from one to the next. The opening track, “Distance Collapsed (In Rubble)” and the third track, “Lucid Delirium” incite mosh pits. Skarajew and Cullen churn out riffs at lightning quick speeds while Mazziotta stomps and smashes away at blistering blast beats. “From the Eventide Pool” meanwhile, plays as the deceased are lowered their final resting place. It gives Distance | Collapsed its purest Funeral Doom moment, providing a near-ambient contrast to the frenetic tempo of the songs it lies between.
Of course these first three songs build towards the album’s greatest moment, “The Empyrean Torment”. In what is the most disEMBOWLMENT-like portion of Distance | Collapsed, “The Empyrean Torment” channels all of the greatness that was contained within Transcendence into the Peripheral some thirteen years ago. It effortlessly weaves together chaotic death and morose threnody into a near twelve-minute exploration of sorrow and strife. This song also represents the apex in which Inverloch stretch the very definition of “heavy” to its breaking point. It ominously builds for just over seven minutes as James’s deep, rumbling growl weighs over long, sustained guitar notes and anticipatory drums before erupting into a ferocious, deathly section. Much like the minutes following volcanic eruption, the final minutes of “The Empyrean Torment” are a slow burn flowing over the listener’s ears. The closing notes congeal and turn to a hardened mass that takes the form of album closer, “Cataclysm of Lacuna”.
Distance | Collapsed manages to be its own monster while maintaining an aura of classical Death-Doom and Funeral Doom acts like disEMBOWLMENT or Mournful Congregation. Inverloch’s debut funnels in these bands and crafts one of 2016’s heaviest albums to date. It is also great to see a couple of influential musicians return to the scene and play alongside modern acts that they influenced years ago. The Aussies are simultaneously a welcomed addition to the Death-Doom genre and a neat blast. Distance | Collapsed is a monolith that demands your attention and your ear.
Knows he doesn’t look like he listens to metal, but trust him. He does. He spends an overwhelming majority of his day listening to it. When he isn’t busy becoming a physical therapist at Duke University, he splits his time as a writer for not only Bearded Gentlemen Music but at Metal Injection, Noisey, and Treble as well. Cody can be found on Twitter or Instagram and if you ever see him in person, please buy him a cup of coffee.