In Oblivion

Album Title: 
Memories Engraved In Stone
Release Date: 
Sunday, July 1, 2018
Review Type: 

It’s bizarre, but you know, this band was formed at the end of the first decade of this century / millennium. However, throughout all those years, the project didn’t really shine through all-capturing obscurity, with exception of one EP in 2015, being the two-tracker In Oblivion. That EP was released via Russia’s finest Endless Winter at the very beginning of Autumn 2015. That’s it…

Both tracks from that recording session (note: being re-recorded), and two new ones, were gathered in Summer 2018, once again under the protecting wings of Endless Winter, under the Memories Engraved In Stone moniker. So, that one actually is the official full-length debut by Justin Butler (he’s also in Aphonic Threnody, for example) and his crew, and it consists of four pieces (but the mathematically smart-minded did figure this out, of course), clocking more than one hour (one hour and six minutes -and a couple of seconds- to be specific). The compact disc comes in an edition of 300 (physical) copies, which include a very sober eight-page booklet, including the lyrics and some extremely fine visual artwork (courtesy of Erik Bredthauer). Everything was eventually mixed and mastered, FYI, by Michael Day.

Four megalithic compositions are part of this album, clocking in between thirteen and twenty-one minutes each: Wreathed In Gloom (16:19), An Eve In The Mourning (15:12), Memories Engraved In Stone (13:27) and In Perfect Misery (21:06). The first and the third one, by the way, were part of that 2015’s two-track EP.

The material stands for a truly overpowered and harsh wall of guitar-laden Funeral Doom / Doom Death Metal. It’s quite melodious in execution, with a monumental guitar-led basement as spine (frontman Justin and Ciaran McCloskey). The whole string-session is multi-layered (besides but guitar players, this counts as well for bassist Jake Holmes), i.e. that different guitar riffs and melodies are mingled into one firm, powerful orchestra. The better part of the album goes that way, with a differing melodic structure when referring to the four- and six-string section. But there is so much more, so many other elements to explore. Justin’s voice, for example, is oh so deeply-gurgling, breathing asphyxiating smoke right from his entrails, growling beastly and barbarically. To be honest, I do not know many throats that are so abyssal and bestial. Once in a while, and that’s quite an interesting thing too, there are like blackened screams, veiling the whole experience in a mist of sulphur and poison gas. Another excellent instrumental detail – no, it’s not just a detail, so let’s start this phrase all over again. Another excellent element is the whole drum and percussion session (now with Adrian Voorhies, previously tracked by Shane Elwell), which permanently supports the vocal / string-based core with persuasion and conviction; sometimes slow yet heavily pounding, then again explosive and eruptional, and everything in between, yet always in a well-thought equilibrium with all other instruments / voices.

Despite the extensive length and the ultra-slow tempo of all four compositions, the variety is enormous. At first, there are quite some changes in speed and structure. When talking about the first, the speed, well, actually ‘speed’ is a boutade. It’s rather ‘un-speed’, but with a diversification in between slow over slower to sloth-like ultra-slow. However, some fragments do accelerate, which is such nice contradiction to experience. And when referring to the latter, the changes in structure, I’d rather like to mention the different emotions going on: melancholy, tragedy, nostalgia and grief, yet also anger, rebellion, rejection. The lyrical side too fits perfectly to these attitude-oriented variations. Besides, a fine addition is the use of keyboards (by Ryoko Minowa), which are not overwhelmingly represented, yet smoothly and modestly injected within the huge wall of sound. They do add that dramatic and / or hypnotic level of dreamlike majesty without exaggeration. For the introduction to the title track, then again, it rather sounds like some harpsichord or clavichord-alike thing. Another additional instrument that gets used sporadically yet ingeniously at the right moment(s) are acoustic guitars (also by Justin); few in appearance, yet perfectly timed when used. Whether it’s meant as intro, intermezzo or at the background to support a specific excerpt, they do sound mature and well-balanced.

And hey, what about this. I realize that the legendary melodies of Marche Funèbre Sonata Op. 35 (better known, I guess, as the Funeral March) have been used a thousand of times before, especially within the happy and joyful Funeral Doom scene, but within An Eve In Mourning it is not just ‘another cover edition’ yet a smartly integrated injection based on this legendary piece by Frédéric Chopin.

Anyway, In Oblivion are not exactly a renewing act at all. They dwell within sonic spheres of, let’s say, earlier Ahab, Evoken, Mourning Beloveth, Thergothon, Disembowelment or Ataraxie ; I could / would even dissect hints of My Dying Bride alike majesty (some dual leads, some keyboard excerpts, etc.). Then again, the result is of a very high quality. The four pieces are extremely solid and mature in both song writing and execution, the sound quality is devastatingly overwhelming and darkening, and what’s more: I feel it, I believe what these guys are doing. No gimmicks, no fakeness, no exaggeration, no pathetic would-be attitude either.

In the meantime, the project (band?) recorded / released a new epic, the lengthy one-track EP called Oblivion, in case of interest…