Monday, December 26, 2011

Loss' Despond

Pain is something dreaded by nearly every human being. We do all we can to avoid it and forget it and remove it from our lives. We do everything possible to exist without it, yet, ultimately, it's something humanity will never rid itself of. Loss' debut embodies the notion that, as Carl Jung would say, pain is ever present, and as much a part of life as the dance of shadow and light, and that it's something we hate, deny, and fear in ourselves. Loss has just chosen to deal with it and express it. To quote the band, "Life isn't worth living 99% of the time," and that's what Loss tries to convey with their music. And they've succeeded to an impressive extent. The despair this band projects is so authentic it's scary. It's the work of musicians who've truly been there. And it's this that makes it so genuine.

Doom metal has grown on me a lot this past year. A large percentage of albums on this list have been doom albums of some sort or another. But this one is truly exceptional. Despond is one of the most emotionally stirring albums of the year, and the only album even close to expressing such deep depression and misanthropy that burns its way to the heart of the psyche. Novembers Doom, Tombs, The Atlas Moth, etc., have all released doom albums hailed by many metal critics as the best of the year. None of those compare to this. In 2004 Loss released a demo, Life Without Hope...Death Without Reason, which spread fast and caused quite a buzz in the underground. Seven years later, Loss debuts their first album, Despond. Two of the tracks on this album are actually re-recordings of two of the tracks on the demo. These include "Conceptual Funeralism Unto the Final Act (of Being)," and "Cut Up, Depressed And Alone."

This album features ultra heavy bass and guitars, and sparse but steady drums. It's slow, it's melodic, it's tormented. The vocals are anguishing. "Silent and Completely Overcome" features guest vocalist Brett Campbell, from Pallbearer (who's set to release a debut in January), who provides the only clean vocals on the album, and man, they're fantastic. This track is my favorite on the album. "I do not remember depression such as this" will echo in your mind long after it's over. This song also features a brief intermittent section of black metal at 6:10 (when the tempo actually peaks above a crawl) before converting back to megadoom at 6:38, when a crushingly heavy and painfully slow riff finishes out the song. Loss doesn't only include elements of death into their doom, but black as well. The atmosphere throughout the whole thing is super intense.

There are piano-led interludes ("Despond"), which add to the gothic sound of the album. "The Irreparable Act" closes the album with clean guitars, synthesizers, and a monologue in a manner that, despite the lack of heaviness, is just as haunting and depressing as the rest of the album. There's strange eerie guitar work (such as what we hear at 0:35 in "An Ill Body Seats my Sinking Sight" and what we hear at 0:03 in "Silent and Completely Overcome"). One of the most impressive aspects of this album is the way each song is distinguishable. Each song is recognizable. You can tell one song from another. There's very little "meandering," which just isn't the case with 95% of funeral doom. Creating a funeral doom album that's a truly memorable complete body of work isn't an easy task. Loss has done it. This is the metal album of the year. 

HIGHLIGHTS: "Open Veins to a Curtain Closed," "Cut up Depressed and Alone," "Conceptual Funeralism Unto The Final Act (Of Being)," "Silent and Completely Overcome,"
"The Irreparable Act"

The band stated in an interview that they won't stop writing music until they've created the perfect funeral doom atmosphere. And they made it sound like this album is basically just a preliminary glimpse of what's to come. That aside, I have a hard time believing they'll ever top this record. 

Originally written for my 2011 End-of-Year List on 

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