It was a matter of atmospheric escape, a mass of water battered into balance and life-bearing stone by a sporadic series of uncountable violent acts of nature, an elemental transformation that’d been by chance (and only eventually) capable of sustaining the hideous possibility of life. These ages of churning cataclysm fraught with nuclear events, hellish ‘scaping by the scars of rarely internalized molten reactivity, and the accost of various celestial bodies in geologic time concern northern Italy-borne experimental death/doom metal quartet Assumption on this long-considered and perhaps newly defining sophomore full-length album. ‘Hadean Tides‘ is a second effort from these (newly expanded) fellowes which further attempts to thrive within classic funeral death/doom imposition whilst taking a long, undisturbed divining stare at the possibilities beyond traditionally stark ambiance, filling the eyes with visions of hellish landscapes, the ears with synapse-sluicing wonder and the mind with hallucinatory tremors alike.
Having already more-or-less given general assay of Assumption‘s Mark I eonothem in review of their debut long-player (‘Absconditus‘, 2018) the short version is that this band formed as a duo of Italian musicians who’d been notable for their ‘old school’ death metal ventures in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, each hitting their creative stride on a professional level arguably beyond 2011. Their discography reflects a love for funeral death/doom abstraction, or, more specifically the natural need for actual riffs and aggression within the atmospheric possibilities offered by funeral doom pacing and classic avant-garde extreme doom modus. They’ve excelled in normal levels of boon with each and every release since, yet ‘Hadean Tides‘ represents their most accessibly presented work and most varietally set experimentation in tandem.
While it made sense to consider the general tone and motion of Assumption‘s standout EP (and my personal favorite) ‘The Three Appearances‘ (2014) next to that of Evoken, early Esoteric, and post-Disembowelment project Inverloch these are references of placement, pacing and performance rather than borrowed guitar tones and the pause heavy n’ slurring speech traditional death/doom metal rhythms. When ‘Absconditus‘ arrived four years later it was a brave move away from the comfortable expectations built and one that’d taken some time to parse, even beyond review; Patiently creeping psychedelic funeral undertakings, or, huge fifteen minute pieces focused heavily on nigh equal parts dark/sci-fi ambiance, solitary guitar-driven builds, and a generally insightful vignettes of riff-focused death/doom metal. It’d been abstract, a bit of a surprise, and still holds up quite well as an earnestly unique vision in the well-trodden niche they’d inhabited. A long silence continued and various side projects spawned while the world burned and festered ’til 2021 wherein the duo had expanded into a quartet by way of hand-picked live musicians Matija Dolinar (Siderean) and Claudio Troise (ex-Gravesite) whom now offered the possibility of writing music which could be performed by a troupe of four folks whom are all variously adept and this seems to be the biggest catalyst for change in the conjure of ‘Hadean Tides‘, the possibilities have expanded yet the dynamic has shifted to include the practical concerns of live performance.
Rather than expand the quieting ambiance of ‘Absconditus‘ into frothy, extended feature they’ve minimized it while cutting song lengths into ~7-8 minute pieces which cater to a more classic death/doom metal format, now extending beyond the conservative length of their debut by a full 20 minutes with twice as many songs in hand. This essentially addresses all of by biggest criticisms of their debut versus the intense impact ‘The Three Appearances‘ had upon me when released, more-or-less making good on the potential of that original sound while still sticking within (or, expanding beyond) the stylistic context of their debut. In plain English? There’re big riffs to get stoked on all over this album and they’re -doomed- in satisfying cataclysmic mode throughout the full listen, particularly picking up major steam about minute or two into “Submerged by Hadean Tides”. In fact as we step into the maudlin bends and resounding downtuned resonances of “Daughters of the Lotus” it’ll be clear that Assumption intend to focus on bigger, more traditionally doom metal inspired rhythm guitar work wherein each motion made begins to count towards an actual song developed and not mere vignette for various progressions; It is the sort of performative profundity which does away with this superficial notion that death-doom guitar arrangements must be simple and dryly blunted to achieve true ‘old school’ impact and should speak to folks who’d studied closely the demo-to-LP progression of funeral death/doom’s best remembered acts.
A double album split into roughly four ~equal fifteen minute sides, ‘Hadean Tides‘ takes an extended break on Side B with “Breath of the Daedalus”, an ambient piece which eventually stirs into a steady swell of damned chorale at its ending peak. This is, from my point of view, the sort of track you’ll hear in an ancient warrior culture themed video game title screen to some degree and presents less of a “break” rather than a segue into action wherein tension is upheld but attenuated, giving some time to absorb the vision thus far. Practically speaking, in a double LP situation where I’d be flipping sides twice I’d have jumped up and skipped this piece in most cases beyond achieving the effect on initial listens whereas on a CD, sure, just let it rip. It is also worth mentioning (admittedly without any additional value to the reader) that this ambient piece sounded much, much worse on low bitrate mp3 files initially provided for review compared to the higher quality provided by Sentient Ruin later on, the album as a whole presented much better in steady non-variable bit rate and will obviously sound best in physical form.
As we begin to hit Side C we move from standout death/doom metal band with funeral doom influences to Assumption‘s deepest step into bold and experimental vision yet, stepping beyond the very ‘normal’ extreme doom altitudes of “The Liquescent Hours” into the early 70’s psychedelic post-beat generation meets neofolk strum and spoken prose of “Triptych”, an surprising yet on brand moment which the band should absolutely continue to approach in this equal parts direct-to-listener conjure and huge, huge riffed exodus in response. In fact some of their heaviest rhythm guitar knots to date are tied to the endpoint of this boldly set song. The effect of this piece is unforgettable and placed at a point where I was sure ‘Hadean Tides‘ would be a very normal yet very heavy death/doom metal record. Beyond that peaking moment we’ve an entire Side D dedicated to “Black Trees Waving”, what I’d consider as Assumption‘s take on the best-rounded funeral death/doom style complete with flanging clean guitar warp, violent bursts of early-to-mid 90’s death metal rhythms, and a style of vocals which reflect the true idiosyncrasy necessary to the history of funeral doom which upticks in the second half of the piece. It is an eventful and memorable full listen though it takes some time for the major standout moments to worm their way in, with most of the best rhythm guitar work happening in the shadows of bigger spectacle firing off.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Assumption greatly thrive within the more accessible death/doom metal format of ‘Hadean Tides‘ allowing for their various angles of experimentation to confront the listener in doled-out spectacle rather than beguile from a distance at a constant rate. This feels like reasonable progress and development, enough of a paradigm developed per the four years of thought involved to impress. On a less analytical level this second full-length from the band continues their history of very fine visual presentation, always in direct and high quality representation of their lyrical themes. All things considered, and after what feels like hundreds of listens, we’ve identified one of the finer funeral death/doom metal releases herein. A very high recommendation.
|LABEL(S):||Everlasting Spew Records,|
Sentient Ruin Laboratories
|RELEASE DATE:||May 20th, 2022|
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