Title: VI – Dantalion
Label: Code666 Records
Release date: 8 November 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
Belgian Funeral Doom project SLOW released the monumental “V – Oceans” in January of 2018, once again demonstrating their competence in heavy, yet extremely atmospheric music, combining the crushing riffs of Doom with delicate and beautiful ambience, summoning concepts of existential nothingness, dread and sorrow… Now it’s time for the follow-up: On November 8th the duo of Déhà and Lore B. release another monolithic album, the 78-minute epic that is “VI – Dantalion”, another piece of “essential suffocating Funeral Doom for the downcast and dejected”, as they put it themselves.
From the get go, SLOW build tension and atmosphere, as “Descente” (“Descent”) opens with an ominous and ambient piano intro, before the instruments commence to crush you immediately, in unity with Déhàs deep growls. The extensive riffs in combination with monolithic drums make for an overall really impactful sound. The album opener leads directly into track 2: “Lueur” (“Glow”) marks the real onset of what “VI – Dantalion” has to offer! The album adds new elements with intent, building up the atmosphere of an epic and dark opera-like scale, the most accurate way to define the records sound would be “Funeral Doom opera”. The crushing Funeral Doom riffs are mixed with occasional, beautifully melancholic melodic riffs and the driving drums, often faster than typical for the genre make it sound almost “Symphonic Death” at times. Quieter interludes including the ominous piano from the start in combination with whispered vocals build up tension effectively for the next, inevitable onset of crushing intensity, taking existential dread to a new devastating, yet beautiful level… I found it astounding that each time you may think a high point is reached, another element of epic proportions is added! “Géhenne” (“Gehenna”) features a prevalent and sinister bass tone with looming drums, after which the epic concept of the previous track is further explored, although sounding much more dismal and grim than it did before. Among this grandiose concept, the track also offers gloomy graveyard ambience.
“Futilité” (“Futility”) explores another facet of the epic opera-esque concept, being a bit more driving and carrying an ethereal quality to its sound. It is one of these tracks that transports a plethora of emotions, and in that is ambivalently sad and hopeful simultaneously. Including melancholic piano in its composition, worthy to its title this track captures the essence of futility. To me it communicates a feeling that no matter the struggle, in the end there is no good way out of this… What I also really enjoyed on this track is that a quieter melodic composition gets transformed into an imposing riff, heightening the sense of emotional urgency. Accompanying this particular part the intensifying drums that are very noticeable in an inherently lethargic genre like Funeral Doom, are utilized to great effect!
On “Lacune” (“Gap”), my personal favourite track, the sense of a “Gothic Opera” is really achieved, crushing riffs and underlaid ambience, backing vocals from Lore B. plus a really mournful outro make this track a real standout. “Incendiaire” (“Incendiary”) sounds even more like a gothic epic, escalating throughout its runtime to perhaps the most theatrical the album gets. Overall it makes a great closer to the “Metal” part of the album, as the next and final track is something different: “Elégie” (“Elegy”) is a 16-minute outro to the record, but don’t get me wrong, this is not some tacked on outro to extend the runtime, it’s an important part of the journey, offering some of the most gorgeous, yet sorrowful melodies SLOW ever put out. While present on all of the tracks, this is where the album gave off the strongest “movie soundtrack” vibes yet. A strong and very emotional closing track!
“VI – Dantalion” is pretty overt and maybe even “on the nose” with its theatricality and epic scale, it may appear overproduced / overpolished to some, but I think it’s makes sense when taking into account the concept and intention. It’s not quite as lethargic as most classic Funeral Doom, offers a bit more variety, and while this may deter some of the more classic fans of the genre and its initial characteristics, I found this album to be very compelling. Some may also be discouraged by the immense runtime, yet I can say I was never bored or discouraged throughout. SLOW’s sixth album is a terrific Funeral Doom opera and one of my favourites in this niche genre! 8.5/10 the trve Medvson
8.5/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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