Few genres resonate with as much sincerity as doom metal. Although naturally predisposed towards the melodramatic, it conveys a range of emotions that other metal genres simply never will. Every now and then, I come across an act that manages to elucidate, with stark candour, some of the most primal of our instincts. In this instance, grief. When you consider Australian doom, you’d be forgiven for immediately thinking of disEMBOWELMENT or even their current incarnation Inverloch. If you are in the know, however, you may also invoke The Slow Death, a band notable for their funeral pace and lustrous, melancholic leads, supplied by Pallbearer main man Brett Campbell. The band also featured a huge vocal section, lead by the outlandishly deep gutturals of the distinctly talented Gregg Williamson, a man who sadly, as of 2014, is no longer with us. Illimitable Dolor was formed as tribute to Williamson, and this self titled debut, driven by half of The Slow Death, seeks to exemplify and convey this most personal paradigm of loss.
Best friend and band-mate, Stuart Prickett (vocals, guitars and keys) has striven to mold the emotive tenets of his main vehicle into a more elemental concept. The debut, which only contains 4 elongated songs, begins with “Rail of Moon, A Stone.” Its weeping leads and glacial pace immediately rumble into life, with its bereft characteristics defining the signature of the album. It’s probably not entirely apt to call it funeral doom, especially if you consider the slower than evolution crawl of Eye of Solitude, but it’s certainly protracted in its delivery. Immediately noticeable are the forlorn keys that trace the disconsolate leads, layering the emotional heft – the drama of which is compounded around the 3 minute mark when the track shifts a gear, slipping into a comparatively mid-paced chug. Prickett adopts a slow, low pitched growl to espouse his lamentations and the delivery fits the album like a glove.
The ordering of the album, considering its elephantine content, is handled particularly well. I love funeral doom, but there are a great many of us that just can’t cope with its structure – Illimitable Dolor has the good grace, in its own minute way, to mix up the tempos of the content, alternating its brief track listing between languorous and slightly more propulsive material. The tellingly titled “Comet Dies or Shines” begins with a riff which wouldn’t be out of place on a Doom:VS record. It quakes with tectonic weight until eventually opening into gorgeous, almost uplifting notes. Each moment on the album deftly echoes the different stages of the grieving process, and it’s in moments like these that the band truly earns its “atmospheric” tag, infusing its stock death/doom with legitimately evocative nuances. The organ that pervades “Salt of Brazen Seas” is inspired and lends a particular grandiosity to the riffing, undulating with a tidal and moon driven ebb and flow.
I can truthfully attest to the sincerity of Illimitable Dolor‘s emotional impact, as my first few rotations were without knowledge of the impetus behind its creation. And although, to quote Mr. Mustaine, “hindsight is always 20/20,” I can still honestly report that these tracks were sentimentally draining even prior to the knowledge, which naturally lent a certain gravitas to future spins. Fans of more straight forward genres, looking to spend their time penis punching poseurs and turning their noses up at riffing that doesn’t break the sound barrier, will glean absolutely nothing from a release like this — even the masterful closer, “Abandoned Cuts of River,” a song so colossal in its quality and implication, that it sadly systematically neutralizes the entire first track, docking the debut to a lean but mean 3 songs. Every characteristic of “Rail of Moon, A Stone” is revisited in the album’s final piece, and after multiple listens, I found myself habitually skipping the first in favor of the last, which harbors sweeping melodies, lead guitar crescendos and crushing riff changes, dwarfing its predecessor by degrees.
This debut stands as an inexplicably memorable and tragic piece of art that, given the right audience, will never fail to find its mournful mark. Although the details of its inception are most certainly regrettable, Illimitable Dolor, at the least, represents an intensely personal and often moving epitaph to a man clearly much loved — an immortalizing distinction we won’t all be fortunate enough to enjoy. For the elegiac soul in us all, don’t forget to offer this, and Gregg Williamson, your appreciation, a purpose for which it was so lovingly and inconsolably crafted.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: illimitabledolor.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/illimitabledolor
Releases Worldwide: March 22nd, 2017