Inverloch are a lightly death-tinged doom metal act from Melbourne, Australia. The band is made up of half of legendary act disEMBOWELMENT, a seminal funeral doom band that broke up in 1993 after the release of their game-changing record Transcendence into the Peripheral. Now, drummer Paul Mazziotta and guitarist Matthew Skarajew have reunited to pick up where their previous musical effort left off, but not without a sense of the time that has passed.
The band refer to their debut Dusk | Subside as a “mini-LP.” It is composed of three long songs, just under twenty-two minutes of music. Were this a narrative, it would be a novella, substantial enough to develop a sophisticated atmosphere within a well-crafted structure while keeping the plot lean and nimble enough to move quickly. Inverloch quickly demonstrate that they are masters of aural and emotional tension, allowing the moody, spooky outro of “Within Frozen Beauty” to gradually build into a simmer and boil over into the towering lead of “The Menin Road.”
As a band with deep roots in the funeral doom tradition, Inverloch are no strangers to working with ponderous musical weights. “The Menin Road” is a monumental slab of a song. The sour, sorrowful cymbal notes become mourning bells, and the riffs may as well be carved from granite. This song also serves the narrative, for while “The Menin Road” does not wallow, it drags itself painfully along. Despite the dirge-like pace, it moves relentlessly, irrevocably forward, with a kind of timeless inevitability that evokes a coffin being lowered into a rain-slick pit. Chugging, churning, and turning up mud and blood, the song manages to drive forward despite the sucking weight of doom at its heels.
With this careful attention to movement and pacing, Inverloch are also not afraid to allow Dusk | Subside to take it’s time when need be. “Shadows of the Flame” begins with a long, ominous, quietly brooding passage, purely establishing atmosphere, that stretches out for a full minute, before the rest of the song comes crashing and wailing to life. This is perhaps the most vicious song on the record, a searing, slavering number that lashes out at the listener, retreating to generate more tightly coiled energy before launching another attack. If the previous tracks are exercises in the weight of misery, “Shadows of the Flame” is that same grief transmuted into violent rage. It still creates the image of a bleak, blasted landscape, but now molten lava bubbles up between the tombstones.
For fans of disEMBOWLEMENT, Inverloch have crafted a record that stays true to the core of that original aesthetic while updating their sound as well. They have retained the best parts of what defined them, but also display that they are aware of the way that funeral doom has developed over the last two decades, incorporating and paying homage to that in Dusk | Subside. Both modern and timeless, this is a fantastic piece of massive, wounding doom metal that does not sacrifice melody for devastating power.