Helsinki based funeral/death doom metal band Convocation is a collaboration between two of Finland’s more exacting and profound extreme metal artists. All of the instrumentation and recording comes from former Sear drummer and Desolate Shrine mastermind LL (Lauri Laaksonen) and MN (Marko Neuman) who is best known for his work in avant-metal band Candy Cane as well as currently serving as vocalist for Dark Buddha Rising. The sound they’ve created together on ‘Scars Across’ is a divine rendering of extreme doom metal that invokes the heaviest death/doom then strikes out into experimentation and haunting darkness that is distinctly arranged by the same fellow who is responsible for Desolate Shrine‘s evolution over the years.
‘Scars Across’ may initially feel like an exploration of atmospheric death metal laced with heavy doses of Esoteric and Evoken-like textures on “Disposed” but as the record progresses it begins to breathe it’s own life. Beyond the thickly boiling, ethereal apocalypse of Laaksonen‘s death/doom layers Neuman‘s vocal exploration sets the experience apart. Neuman is no stranger to death/doom himself, as a member of experimental death/sludge/doom band Katakombi but, Convocation rarely strays into the atmospheric sludge pacing of records like ‘Vaeltava Kuolema’ or the old school death metal barks of Candy Cane‘s avant-death grind album ‘Jaula’. Instead the pace (and style) edges somewhere in the ballpark of Fuoco Fatuo‘s ‘Backwater’ or the first Lycus record where it isn’t so plodding and shapeless as pure funeral doom might typically be.
There is most certainly a ‘for us by us’ feeling when listening to ‘Scars Across’ where perhaps only the already indoctrinated fans of a 50:50 ratio of death/doom and funeral doom instantly understand and absorb it’s radiance. That said, if this was your first death/doom record, or perhaps a righteous introduction to the aesthetics and constructs of funeral doom, it would be a proper and easy listen. At no point did I yearn for ‘more this’ or ‘more that’ and instead continue to marvel at Laaksonen‘s talent for doing the work of an entire band while also being an impressive painter and recording engineer. Ending up with a product that oozes such great work is worthy of high praise. Credit to Dan Lowndes (Cruciamentum) of course, as he’s mixed this with a great mind for it’s funeral doom and death metal tones alike.
I don’t want to blow past the importance of Neuman‘s wailing vocal choirs, shrieking night-terrors, and burly Evoken-esque growl that add just enough personality to ‘Scars Across’ and deftly avoids any hint of plain ‘genre entry’ status. The chorales that pop up in “Ruins of Ourselves” or perhaps more prominently in “Allied POWs” are unlike anything I’ve heard before and really give ‘Scars Across’ a haunting feeling across repeated listening. “Ruins of Ourselves” is probably my first recommended track here for preview because of the vocal range and I think Desolate Shrine fans will love the guitar work that kicks in around 6:30 minutes into the song. The title track is equally impressive with an epic outro that really sells the funeral doom side of the experience. What might be the most important point of endorsement here is that Convocation are able to create an incredibly professional atmospheric death metal album that is still able to transition into muscular, ripping guitar riffs when it sees fit. The inherent dynamism if the experience, without shocking or unfitting variation, is a credit to the unity of Convocation‘s collaboration. That it doesn’t sound like a ‘tunnel vision’ solo effort is truly impressive. Excellent debut, highly recommended to death/doom fans who aren’t afraid of funeral doom atmospherics.
Assembly unto death. 4.0/5.0
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