Asphodelus
Dying Beauty & the Silent Sky EP

The early to mid ’90s produced a seemingly endless supply of excellent death/doom demos and EPs from bands that quickly disappeared or mellowed out. Anyone who was turned off by Sweet X-Rated Nothings, ever ended up on a not-so-user-friendly website looking for a clip of “Frozen Feeling,” or longs for a Garden of Silence reunion probably knows what I’m talking about. It would be easy to assume that Asphodelus is another one of those bands. Dying Beauty & the Silent Sky has all the hallmarks: poetic title, folksy artwork, script fonts, raw production, and the sound of that early blending of doom and death metal with goth influences. I haven’t encountered an EP of fledgeling death/doom this authentic and promising since before As Divine Grace dropped the death growls. But, in reality, Asphodelus is the new incarnation of Finnish death metallers, Cemetery Fog, who were already heading in this direction and apparently decided that a name change was in order.

We only get four tracks, but they’re a sumptuous bunch. Even though two of them are ethereal instrumentals, their Raison d’Etre quality keeps them from being throwaways like the ones you find on most other metal albums. I would even be interested in a full album in this style from them. But, of course, the death/doom is what we want the most, and those two tracks do not disappoint. At around eight and seven minutes each, these vast pieces journey through the raw, honest bite of early Avernus, the romantic melancholy of early Anathema, and the gloomy frolic of Visceral Evisceration. The vocals are of the impassioned, gruff variety similar to Shades of God-era Nick Holmes and Lee Dorian around the time of the Soul Sacrifice EP that you don’t hear too often nowadays, and it fits here perfectly. And, of course, no gothic death/doom recording would be complete without some angelic female vocals, which make a welcome appearance here in the closing track, “Nemo Ante Mortem Beatus.”

Even with throwback metal being all the rage in recent years, this is the first time I’ve encountered this specific sound from a new band. Hopefully, Asphodelus won’t succumb to the same fate as many of the bands that inspire them. We need more of this.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
June 15th, 2016

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