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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Catacombs

In the Depths of R'lyeh

Review by Gary Hill

This type of music is a nightmare for someone who reviews things track by track. There’s only so much you can say to differentiate this music. And it changes so very slowly. This type of doom metal is glacially slow moving and not all that metal in terms of ferocity. It’s more like mood music for the metal crowd. As such this is some really cool music to put on and just absorb. It’s not very good for intensive listening, though. I first found out about this disc when doing research for my book – The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft and already wrote about the title track in that tome. For the sake of consistency I’ve used that text here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
In The Depths Of R'lyeh
A creepy sort of guitar riff starts and becomes the main emphasis of this cut early on. It is joined by almost orchestral bursts of power that are based entirely on metal instrumentation, but gain their classical textures from the usage and arrangement. The cut builds incredibly slowly from this point and eventually a death metal growl comes over the top as the cut plods along. At about 2 minutes in it drops back to a more sparse arrangement and the guitar takes on textures that remind me a bit of early Judas Priest.  It turns heavier again in a while and runs through several variants of an incredibly slowly moving wall of sound. Eventually those death growls emerge again and the cut has an exceptionally scary and otherworldly texture to it. It moves along in basically the same ways (the varying segments returning and being reworked) for all of its eleven plus minutes, in a heavy, atmospheric jam that is slow moving, but very hot, much like a flow of magma coming in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. This definitely isn’t for everyone, but fans of doom metal will have to hunt far and wide to find something that moves this slowly and is more atmospherically metallic than this one.
Dead Dripping City
At over sixteen and a half minutes in length, this is no minor cut. The general format hasn’t been drastically altered, but this is no carbon copy of the track that preceded it. The death vocals are no faster or more developed, but they seem more present. It is very slow moving. It’s almost glacial in the way it progresses. This is less about changes and alterations and more about mood. It gets pretty heavy and powerful at times, though – that’s for sure. And it’s not stagnant at all. It’s just that something this massive in sound can’t change gears very quickly. It takes some space to make even a minor turn.
At The Edge Of The Abyss

In many ways this isn’t all that different from the tracks that came before. Still, there is a bit more melody here and I can make out bits of Black Sabbath in this mix. There is also a unique segment around the ten or eleven minute mark where moody keyboard sounds join – bringing in an almost horror movie sort of feeling – and some variety.

Where No Light Hath Shone... (But For That Of The Moon)

Since this has some more of those keyboards, it feels a bit like an extension of the previous piece. There are actually some interesting melodic moments here throughout and the movement where it drops way back to clean, melodic music is a nice change of pace. That section closes this out.

Fallen Into Shadow

The clean, mellow, melodic sounds open this. It makes it way back to the type of music we’ve heard throughout the disc, but those gothic sort of textural melodies remain. Around the three-minute mark it drops way back. Those clean sounds vanish, but there’s a great doomy texture that takes over. This is built up in ominous ways. As it continues to grow we get some crunchy melody emerging over the top that’s very tasty. Around the ten minute mark it drops back to just the gentle music for a short time and then a burst of death doom rises up to accompany that sound.

Awakening Of The World's Doom

Considering that there isn’t another track here that weighs in at less than eleven minutes, this is the "single” of the disc. OK, no one is going to confuse it with something that would be played on Top 40 radio, but at less than two and a half minutes the length fits. It starts very quiet and grows up gradually with one of the more mainstream metal sounds – mind you with the wall of growls still present. In some ways this isn’t that different from one of the slower, moodier things we used to get from Metallica way back when. I can also hear some Hawkwind in this.

 
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