Death/doom is my wheelhouse. This year at MDF, I was finally able to see one of my favorite bands, November’s Doom. During the middle of the day, no less. That was a bucket list item. So, when a band of which I have never heard lists them as influenced by, or for fans of, well, I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m glad I did. I will be going back and checking out their earlier discography when time allows, or when my ADHD mind remembers. Instead of telling you that I do like it, I’ve decided I’m going to tell you why. How novel.

Throughout Witnesses, the fourth album from Italy’s (Echo) there is a perfect balance of dark and light, which never for one moment feels forced. The obligatory intro is light, but there’s ample feedback, making you think that you’re about to get crushed. Then the first official track, “Laudanum” begins with a mournful, doomy Paradise Lost riff. Vocalist Fabio Urietti has a commanding, formidable delivery, but I also can’t help thinking he sounds like Nick Holmes.

“Fate Takes its Course,” is a plodding, doomy beast. The “Nick Holmes” idea has worn off as it seems the vocals have more of a unique personality. It’s a little longer at nearly 7 minutes, but doesn’t feel that long, and plays to the band’s many strengths. Clean vocals come in after about 2 minutes and I didn’t expect that as they sound a lot like Ihsahn, which increases my enjoyment. The steady, heavy riffing showcases the production, which is nearly perfect for the style. You can hear everything without it being too pristine.

Moving forward into the album, I want to talk about track 6, “Monochrome,” which is the one that stood out the most after my initial listen. It’s the moment where I thought this album was going to dominate my playlist for some time, which it certainly has. This is most certainly because it’s the light side of the darkness, and if you didn’t understand the Ihsahn vocal comparison before, you’re deaf if you don’t now. There’s a delicate, nearly perfect balance between heavy riffing, growls, quiet moments, and clean vocals. An outstanding track and “song of the year” contender.

I do the same thing almost every review, but unlike the new Terrifier movie, I don’t want to make this unnecessarily long, so I’ll just talk about the closer, “Saturated.” Then I can do what I wish Fred Trump did and wrap it up. This is one of the slower tracks on the album, but in no way feels out of place because of what had been built previously. They do bring in some growls at the end to contrast the mourning, weeping, softer instrumentals to finish it off.

This is a surefire album of the year contender for me. I don’t know precisely where it will place because there’s still some time before that piece is submitted, but rest assured it’s on there. They implement doomy riffing, excellent growls, soulful cleans, and even some female vocals much like early November’s Doom in “Chemical.”

There hasn’t been much on my death doom plate this year, but the end of the year has brought this, Mother of Graves, and the new Dream Unending. Tough decisions must be made.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
December 2nd, 2022


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