Quarterly this Russian label sends me a shrink wrapped pile of their recent releases, and due to the depth of the content of those releases it’s not always easy to get them processed into my neurological system and reviewed in a timely fashion, but every so often the pack contains a few that are either easier to digest or, as in this case, they are just too interesting to not invest the time in unraveling them. The moment this pack landed, about two weeks back, I opened it up and reviewed the labels website to find out further information on the releases in order to decide on which one(s) would be best to start with first, so given that Grieving Age are from Saudi Arabia this double disc album got priority. I’d just gotten through that Thacthli album that had me in a state of stun, and then had been going through a bit of classic Unholy afterward so another album fairly reminiscent of classic Unholy catastrophic doom was certainly welcome and truth be told Grieving Age left my jaw dragging on the ground for awhile after my first few encounters with them.
Each Grieving Age song is pretty extensive in length and intense, just like the ridiculously long song titles, so this is not an album for the casual listener. Of the five songs the shortest length song on here is almost sixteen minutes, with two of the songs being over eighteen minutes in length, and the other two being nearly half an hour long each. Yet even with these songs lengths it never seems as though the album drags because the band keeps the rhythm pulsing and the riffs churning. This band really does have more of a unique 90’s extreme doom thing going on here which may exhaust some listeners, but only as a result of the strenuous battery unleashed over the course of the songs as this band appears to thrive on being crushing and tidal versus to droning and drowning into gloom oblivion. And with the bands general style comprised of a sort of gruff, throaty, doom death metal spoken word vocal style counter balancing the heavy but steady throb of the rhythm section, and then combined with a sludge doom touch to the guitar tone the end result is almost a nautical storm of torrential downpour and violent currents. Through this sound the songs feel as if they are written and performed aboard a wooden ship stranded on the high seas fighting a hurricane and the pull of an abysmal whirlpool ahead.
The bulk of the album is a massive brew of tension and dramatic moods that are mostly driven by rhythm with virtually no melody whatsoever but in some songs such as the opener, “Merely the Ululating Scurrilous Warblers…”( I chose to truncate the title by 30% ), there is enough atmosphere and suspenseful build up that some of the doom riff tones almost morph into a lead or melody. And with what this album lacks in superficial entertainment value it grossly compensates for in repeated fast-slow sledgehammer blow patterns to the listeners skull. Merely The Fleshless… is not a road trip album, it does not work well for commuting, it is one of those albums that is best appreciated while unwinding in a stationary state when one’s mind is focused on other things or trying to get lost in something. In that mindset the album will soak into the mind more effectively through the subconscious and initiate the bands intended sensation of urgency and chaos in the listener in order for them to venture further into the dire scenario of the apocalyptic, misanthropic world that is being depicted here. It’s sort of like an epic novel that requires the right amount of time and mood set aside to really indulge in the situations full complexity, but even when skimmed for the sake of time (like catching chunks of a great film without seeing the whole thing in one sitting) you’ll be sure to get hooked enough to where you WILL want to make time to catch it in its entirety. And in all honesty, if I hadn’t known the band were from Saudi Arabia I would have guessed Sweden, Finland, UK, and then Eastern Europe because of the label they are on.
If you enjoy Esoteric, Unholy, and Minsk (just to name a few) then you really should hear Grieving Age.
The entire album can be streamed at: http://grievingage.bandcamp.com/album/merely-the-fleshless-we-and-the-awed-obsequy
But I’m also posting video below for several songs here.