diSEMBOWELMENT left quite a mark with their one-and-only album, 1993’s brilliant Transcendence into the Peripheral, before disbanding later that year. In the ensuing decades since, many doom/death hybrids have come and gone and few have come close to attaining the lofty heights ascended by the sadly-missed Australians. So, when bassist (now guitarist) Matthew Skarajew and drummer Paul Mazziotta would regroup as d.USK in 2011 playing the old classics with new members, I was excited to check out a band that I missed after they had called it a day. However, after renaming themselves Inverloch later that year with a promise of new material, I approached the concept with extreme caution. Thankfully, their 2012 EP, Dusk | Subside, was a short-but-fully-effective taste of what the band is capable of, and now we have their debut full-length, Distance | Collapsed.
Doom/death is a difficult genre to pull off effectively, as the balance of invoking an atmosphere and providing brutal heaviness and speed when necessary can be a tricky tightrope indeed. Add the importance of not lulling the listener to sleep during the proceedings, and you can easily figure out why many bands that play this hybrid have a hard time breaking through. I’m happy to report, however, that Distance | Collapsed is a success on all fronts. “Distance Collapsed (In Rubble)” wastes very little time, with Skarajew and fellow guitarist Mark Cullen crafting a bleak, shadowy blanket over Mazziotta’s blasts. Eventually, everything slows to a crawl, with Ben James growling and hissing indecipherably, creating a sense of despair and overwhelming dread. This song also has a riff similar to Metallica‘s iconic “For Whom the Bell Tolls” at 5:28, but even then, it’s slowed down and used to devastating effect. For an eight-plus minute song, it definitely did not feel that long. Not an easy thing to do, but Inverloch made it seem so effortless.
Distance | Collapsed is refreshingly varied enough to hold your attention throughout the album’s 40 minutes. You have dalliances of speed with “Lucid Delirium,” as well as devastatingly slow dirges in “From the Eventide Pool.” In highlight track, the almost twelve-minute “The Empyrean Torment,” you have both, with the first seven minutes being the most crushing riffs on the entire album. Mazziotta’s expert cymbal hits are peppered here and there, followed by blasts and tremolo riffing at 7:15 before slowing things back down to an atmospheric funeral procession from 8:52 onward, setting up for the somewhat-uplifting (yet far from happy) closer “Cataclysm of Lacuna.”
Produced by Skarajew and Joel Taylor, the sound is quite warm and full. Mazziotta’s drums thunder convincingly, and his cymbals shimmer without too much shine. The vocals cut through the pea soup-thick fog of the guitars nicely. In fact, the only fault I can find is that the guitars are so thick and chewy that new bassist Chris Jordan is a bit lost in the mix, only popping out here and there. Still, this is one beast of an album, and it’s been playing almost non-stop since I first acquired it.
2016 is shaping up to be a damn good year for doomy death metal. Between Distance | Collapsed and Vainaja‘s incoming newest, I’m quite the happy (dirge-y) camper right now. Abhor the sun, and let the funeral march commence.