Monday, June 18, 2012

Horse Latitudes - Awakening (2012)

Full Length, Doomentia Records
February 10th, 2012

Genre: Doom Metal
Region: Finland

I was told a few months back that this record was heavier than Pallbearer's Sorrow And Extinction, but because I had not heard it I wanted to hold off judgement. Even so I had a little difficulty suppressing a scoff of disbelief. Judge for yourself.

Having now heard this Finish doom trio I am still reluctant to say it's heavier than that aforementioned monolith of an album. Not because Awakening is a slouch in the heaviness department — to say that would be so far from the truth. The fact is this record crushes effortlessly. My point is that these two bands have completely different styles in all avenues of they approach to the doom genre. Pallbearer being more Black Sabbath oldschool and melodic while Horse Latitudes are more minimalistic, bass focused, droning and ritualistic. Both being utterly massive in their own right.

And when I say "bass heavy" I mean that literally: there is no guitar here. It's two bassists of thundering power that will weigh down upon you like a horrific rock slide. A suffocating line of slow, grumbling riffs that would crack mountains if played loud enough. Both of them, while definitely low and fuzzy, are very clean and smooth. Plucked with a deliberate, torturous pace and strength as the ceremonial, rhythmic drumming crawls and strikes thunderous blows in every moment.

The moans and drones from the clean vocals sink you further into a ritualistic ether — this combination of sounds will put you into a meditative state as if you were transported to a temple high upon a dark and misty mountain range. Sometimes the vocals will become sung with more melody or get a crusty edge injected into them but for the most part they remain in a chanting clarity.

Awakening's material hovers around the 8 minute mark and rarely break its pacing. Only on "Decline of the Ages"  does it break from it's gigantic gait for several minutes near the finish line, and it does not feel out of place. It only heightens the titanic majesty in my opinion. In all other moments it is a roaring, shuddering beast to listen to.

Each droning song heaves boulders of doom towards you. The title "Awakening" seems entirely appropriate once you pass the intro as this really does evoke the image of an ancient lumbering creature having just awoken from the tribal meditations of a powerful, archaic cult. It could be criticized for being monotonous or lacking much depth if you had to lay some issues down but there is beauty of the simplistic heaviness heard here.

While I personally prefer Pallbearer's recent album more, this is a doom record that holds its own and is certainly recommended. A towering monster in all aspects. If you like shit such as Monarch!, Atriarch, Bell Witch, etc. than you'll want to check this out. You can stream it in full on their bandcamp page or if you want a hard copy go to Doomentia Records and snap it up on vinyl.

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