Monday, 17 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Eternal Black, "Slow Burn Suicide"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/06/2019
Label: Obsidian Sky Records

Eternal Black have once again delivered an excellent record and represent the best of the American doom genre today. Masterful stuff.

“Slow Burn Suicide” DD track listing:

1). All These Things Destroy You…
2). Lost in the Fade
3). Below
4). The Ghost
5). Sum of All fears
6). A Desert of No Name
7). Three Fates
8). Sinners, Saints, and Madmen
9). All these Things (Slight Return)

The Review:

New York's premier doom outfit return here a couple of years on from “Bleed The Days”. Hal Miller, Joe Wood and Ken Wohlrob have struck back in some style here. After the opening intro of “All These Things Destroy You”, the percussive pummelling that opens “Lost In The Fade” lets the listener know they mean business: it's live and raw sounding, thick and fuzzed out. This is doom as it should be in America today; angry, abrasive and seething with an undertow of disillusionment.

As the record progresses, it becomes clear that the trio have lost none of their knack for “the riff” or self loathing. As Wohlrob asks “How low have I sunk?!” you feel the integrity in the vocal delivery. On the likes of “The Ghost”, there is a hint- well, more than a hint, of the band spreading their wings beyond traditional American Doom to encompass something that might be more akin to Fu Manchu  or even COC. Don't mistake this for a stoner album, as it is not, but there are echoes of other genres to go with the more obvious nods towards Saint Vitus et. al.

Eternal Black still know how to hammer their point home with riffs that are beaten relentlessly into the listener's consciousness and pacing quick enough to get the head nodding, but slow enough to please the most discerning doom head. “Sum of All Fears” and “A Desert of No Name” are equally blunt in their heavier than thou opening riffage, but the latter is a more dynamic affair which allows the trio to sound more than a three piece. It takes skill to do that, particularly when working in a genre that is not well known for aural subtlety. It's also excellent to hear a cowbell placed firmly front and centre on any doom track.

The close-to-three-minutes of “Three Fates” represents a creepy acoustic/electric departure with percussive flourishes that invokes Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds more than, say, Pentagram and it is an excellent change of approach and pace that allows the latter third of the album to feel like a suite in its own right. “Sinners, Saints and Madmen “is whah'd  (not a word!) out and features wonderful riffing and a soulful bent to its delivery. The jazzy inflections present on earlier work are present and correct here and lend the track a schizophrenic feel. It's sublimely played and deftly handled. The best comparison I can give is perhaps that it is akin to reading a Henry Miller novel like Plexus; it's one thing one minute and something else the next.

The closing “All These Things (Slight Return)” echoes the opening statement of the record and is just as powerful at the end as it is at the beginning. The two tracks frame the album expertly and book end the journey that plays out in between. Once again, Eternal Black have delivered an excellent record. It's wider in scope than “Bleed The Days” but delivered with equal conviction. This album is for all those people who have been jamming the new Vitus record endlessly and want some more doom... but something that bit different. Maybe it's something in the water in Brooklyn, maybe Peter Steele is still communicating from beyond the grave but whatever it is, Eternal Black have got IT and they represent the best of the American doom genre today. Masterful.

“Slow Burn Suicide” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook