Whenever I say the words “endurance test,” what does that do to you, dear reader? Do you think of 26.2 mile marathons across metropolises like Boston, or even out in the barren sticks of Arizona? Do they bring back memories of reading books like War & Peace in the time span of a few days, in hopes that the book report will somehow miraculously score higher than the “C” you earned due to poor planning? Or do they make you think of whatever season of your favorite television show that you are about to binge-watch on Netflix starting, oh, after this here review? In this case, “endurance test” means seven songs at just under 71 minutes under the moniker of III, written by British doom/death merchants Indesinence.
And it starts off interestingly enough, at least for the first four songs. “Seashore Eternal,” being the shortest song at just over two-and-a-half minutes, readies you for what the rest of the album has in store: equal heaps of classic Peaceville Three-ness (My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Anathema, for those not born before 1990) with little smatterings of classic Morbid Angel weirdness. Once Ilia Rodriguez growls his way through “Nostalgia,” the Anathema-esque atonality rears its head, with both his and Andrew McIvor’s guitar melodies cutting through the fog while Paul Westwood plods through the earth, causing the band to reach for the heavens while remaining grounded on the desolate earth below.
“Embryo Limbo” continues these good (horrible) feelings, even with a cool nod to Neurosis six minutes into the proceedings, making sure your bloodstream gets its daily recommended dose of silver. But remember what I said about those first four songs being interesting? Well, there’s three more after those that don’t quite reach the lofty, depressing heights, and they total 43 minutes and 45 seconds of runtime. The biggest offender among them would be “Strange Meridian,” an overly slow, ridiculously repetitive 17 minute and 30 second exercise in patience and staying awake, with Rodriguez’s voice changing from an otherworldly growl to a more shouty performance, which doesn’t seem to flow with the song at all (this malady also pulls down the second half of “Mountains of Mind/Five Years Ahead (Of My Time)”, the latter being a cover by The Third Bardo).
Greg Anderson (Esoteric) did a tremendous job producing this album at Priory Studios, with bass and drums so thick and guitars that cut just right, you wouldn’t notice the lack of dynamics. But for as good as this sounds, you could have shaved this album in half without any ill effects. In fact, final track “III,” an 11-minute all-ambient song is only notable for featuring Jason Mendonça (Akercocke) on santoor and bombarde.
I love doom/death metal. I love long songs that take me on glum, majestic journeys with hopeful endings. Sadly (in terms of disappointment, not the actual emotion of sadness), III left me very hollow on the second half. It’s a shame, as the first half was very promising indeed. Maybe their next journey won’t lose me halfway through.