Since the first three Black Sabbath albums created a monumental stir in the music community, metal music at large has diverged in all directions. While some musicians opted to further and further distill the rage and speed of the genre to produce some of the harshest tunes known to man, others preferred to build onto the towering atmosphere and trudging desolation to create a true sense of what we define as heaviness. Doom Metal comes from the heart of the latter movement: being obscenely loud, uncontrollably brooding, and (perhaps most importantly) just back-breakingly fucking HEAVY.
In this respect, Salt Lake City's own SubRosa are masters of the craft. They've been writing some of the most abysmal, all-consumingly dreary doom since their inception back in 2005. Their first release, The Worm Has Turned, was a sludgy slog through effects-buried vocals and guitar, while violin is provided to generate haunting, sometimes mournful overtones. The formula was an interesting foray into experimentation, and throughout the last decade the band's only become more and more ambitious. The songs got progressively longer. The music became tighter and more expansive.
In short, everything got better.
By the time the band put out More Constant Than The Gods in 2013, the band was writing songs that averaged ten minutes in length. The band had become a fully-realized doom-metal band, and were all the better for it. With a solidified line-up of guitarist/vocalist and all-around badass Rebecca Vernon, Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack on violins and back-up vocal duty, Levi Hanna on bass, and Andy Patterson on drums, SubRosa set forth to craft some of the best of what the band's Facebook refers to as "Ancient Magickal Doom."
For This We Fought the Battle of Ages Tracklist:
1. Despair Is A Siren
2. Wound of the Warden
3. Black Majesty
4. Il Cappio
5. Killing Rapture
6. Troubled Cells
While the band may well have meant this in a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek manner, it still stands as a perfect label for what to expect from the bands latest release, For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages. The album feels other-worldly in nature, as if performed in the depths of a destitute temple deep in a twisting wooded forest beneath a clear night sky. The band no longer simply writes songs; they paint images with their music, providing listeners with a sense of immense scale and lyrics that allow the imagination to run wild. Vernon's vocal delivery is at times blisteringly wrathful and commanding and then soft and pacifying, complimented perfectly in each song with harmonies performed by Pendleton and Pack. Each degree of this is exhibited in perfect contrast in "Wound Of The Warden", which follows up the lull heard first between 4:30 and 5:56 with a swelling riff and impassioned barks from Vernon. Her guitar work, bolstered by Hanna's rock-solid bass rhythms, prove to be meaty and resonant, enveloping listeners in the scenery of the music. Pack and Pendleton provide further atmosphere with their violin playing, which wails above all else in the mix and creates a uniquely far-off, spectral feel. Last but not least, Andy Patterson's skillful drumming allows him to languidly maintain a beat that anchors the rest of the group and provide crashing cymbals that accentuate every moment of the songs. Because of the presence Patterson assumes over every moment he plays, the moments of calm feel even more effectively bleak and desolate.
It is not terribly often that you hear an album from a group of musicians who are so good at what they do that the music becomes an experience, as one may watch a movie. This band enthralls listeners, and I dare say I will be revisiting For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages
I without hesitation give this album a 9.5/10. Do yourself a favor and listen to this baby from start to finish.
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