Winter is coming, and when the cold reaches my home and hearth, it’s time to break out the top-shelf sad boy melodic doom-death and spin it until Odin renews the world and grants primacy to the sun once more. As the low winter sun encroaches, one of the first bands into the depressive breach is the long defunct but truly excellent Rapture. A close second is the even longer defunct Slumber. The latter released but one brilliant album (Fallout) before imploding, and said album went on to be tragically overlooked, but was likely a big influence to bands like Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum. The brains behind Slumber belonged to Jari Lindholm and he eventually took his talents to Enshine where, along with co-founder Sebastien Pierre (Lethian Dreams, Fractal Gates), they released an excellent slab of melodic doom-death in 2013s Origin. Now this terrific twosome is back to uncork their next winter tested, Finland approved dose of ennui entitled Singularity. What it delivers is a hybrid of Slumber and my dearly departed Rapture – full of weepy guitars, beautifully trilling harmonies and monstrous death roars counter pointed by forlorn, Katatonia-esque cleans. It’s a depressive burrito you’ve tasted before, but the secret sauce is the brilliant writing and the all-enveloping mood. The end result is the near-perfect soundtrack to your sweet, snowbound misery.
Things begin swimmingly (in a cold Nordic lake) with “Dual Existence” which quickly sets the stage with somber and elegant harmonies, guttural death roars and an overwhelming sense of melancholy. There’s a nifty Katatonia-esque riff threaded throughout and everything calls to mind scenes of falling snow and quiet wintry landscapes. The solos are emotionally evocative and beautiful and everything feels classy and polished to a fine sheen. There’s virtually no way fans of Insomium can hear this and not go all loopy, and the best is yet to come. “Adrift” is a flat out exquisite work of art, merging emo goth like A Swarm of the Sun and modern Anathema into a New World Shadows style melo-death template. Sebastien’s clean and harsh vocals are perfect and the dreamy, laconic leads flowing in the background are things of a beauty.
Things get heavier on “Resurgence” and the jacked up but simplistic riffs blend well with the trilling harmonies to create an exceptional melo-death statement as good as any of their peers. “In Our Mind” is another slice of heaven, forcibly marrying excellent goth vocals to brutish death metal. The result is way more elegant and delicate than you’d expect, but man, it really works and the stellar guitar work sucks you in to its sad little world. “Echoes Master” is almost an exact replica of Rapture‘s classic style and the contrast of melodic, The Cure-esque riffing and the harsh roars is just as awesome now as it ever was. “Dreamtide” keeps the ice party going with one weepy guitar flourish after another and if you aren’t buried deep in the snows of sadness by the time this song ends, you may just live to see the Midvinterblot.
The album closes with a positively enthralling instrumental titled “Apex” and it’s one I can’t seem to stop playing. It utilizes the same somber acoustic segments Agalloch did so well in their salad days and also resembles the post-metal doom of Landforge. The whole thing is rich in mood and rife with depressive glory; understated but poignant and the guitar-work is stunning.
Without a weak moment anywhere, this is one of those albums that gets better with every single spin. There’s a lot to take in musically though the songs are very accessible. It’s the little details that keep catching your ear that make it so damn rewarding. The sound is also far better than the DR6 would indicate. It has a lush, expansive sound and the guitars definitely shine bright. Would I love to hear a DR10 vinyl rip? Hell yes, but this is quite amazing as is and I have no complaints about the mix.
Everything comes up aces here, but it’s Jari’s magical guitar playing that’s the big attraction. Borrowing from the very best of goth, doom, melo-death and even black metal, he’s created a wondrous tapestry of sadness and beauty here that few albums will ever equal. While the harder songs will remind many of recent Omnium Gatherum, there’s more than a little Rapture and October Tide in his playing and of course, the ghosts of Slumber are always near his fret-board. This guy is a genius at his kind of music and I cannot say enough good things about him. Sebastien Pierre also comes through big with some excellent vocals. His plaintive singing is tender and heartbreaking and his death roars are as convincing as anyone’s. This is a tour de force by two talented chaps and they’ve really created a career defining work here on Singularity.
A stupefyingly beautiful album from start to finish, Singularity is on a collision course with Record o’ the Year. If you love melodic doom-death and miss this, turn in your metal card and cred and leave the hall, for you good sir, are not my friend. Somewhere out there is a snowflake with your name on it. Get this before it finds you.