It’s been said that “when the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers.” I first came upon Loss and their brand of unrelenting funeral death-doom back in 2011 when Steel matched wits against the almighty Despond. Prior to this, I’d never been exposed to anything that sounded so grudgingly drawn out or so full of crushing personal failure. It mesmerized me! Not the funeral doom genre itself, but rather the arresting approach specifically promulgated by Loss. It’s been six years since Despond, and lo and behold, Loss are gifting us with a new experience aptly titled Horizonless. Though part of me prayed for a new album by the Tennessee band, a bigger part secretly hoped I’d never hear from them again. After all, what were the chances they wouldn’t become victims of the infamous sophomore slump? My prayers were answered, and after some cajoling, I gave Horizonless a listen. One part Lycus, two parts Mournful Congregation, and a dash of 40 Watt Sun (née Warning) – is Loss the hero of their own beautiful tragedy?

Continuing on from where Despond left off, Horizonless comes apart with “The Joy of All Who Sorrow.” Pounding, isolated drum-work decisively makes way for some of the most overwhelmingly tortured vocalizations I’ve yet experienced from Loss. Doing away with the expected predominance of Michael Meacham’s guttural growls, Loss instead releases John Anderson, Tim Lewis and Jay LeMaire who take regret and suffering to a dynamic new level. From the monologue fighting the bass thrum around a third in, to the gurgling black metal inspired evil spewed out in the final third of the track, Loss feel re-energized and their harmonies are as excruciating as the lyrics conveyed. This vocal variety continues on throughout the album, with the most noticeable high-points being the cleans supplied by Tim Lewis in the title track followed by the guest vocals of Wrest (Leviathan), Stevie Floyd and Billy Anderson (sound engineer and producer for everybody from Agalloch to Pallbearer) on “When Death Is All.”

As with Despond, Horizonless features a variety of song lengths that work hand-in-hand to make an otherwise overwhelming album seem somehow more palatable. “I.O” and “Moved Beyond Murder,” are the shortest tracks here, and though they could easily be throwaways if used within another project, on Horizonless each has a specific and contrasting role. Dominating “I.O” are the soprano pickings of a mandolin, cutting through oppression with it’s femininity, Jay LeMaire charms the instrument, coaxing out a sense of spontaneity, vulnerability and radiance that would be tough to replicate with a more traditional instrument. “Moved Beyond Murder” takes the opposite path – here Michael Meacham uses an analogue synthesizer, bell and chants in much the same way as Caïna would, conveying focus and a chilling lack of emotion. Meacham’s unrelenting sincerity only serves to leave lines like “oh what I wouldn’t give to drag a knife across your throat” buried like a blade deep into your subconscious.

The remainder of Horizonless, drags along mostly at a glacial pace, with Loss‘ core influences (Mournful Congregation and Warning) at heart, and a steady eye on avoiding stagnation. Cavernous growls, dense fuzzed-out riffing and exaggerated drum lines are the nuts and bolts of Loss. The moments that really ended up staying with me, and having the biggest impact, are where Loss bend the rules – tactfully injecting the melody of In Mourning, sinking into the doldrums occupied by Eudaimony and Deadspace (“Naught”), or picking apart the resonance of Ulver (“When Death Is All”).

Horizonless proved itself a multi-dimensional construct, showcasing a unique blend of melodic harmony, bleak contrast and grinding torment, and from a sonic standpoint, Billy Anderson worked the production to play to each one of the band’s strengths. This album leaves you feeling that Horizonless finds Loss more at home in their own skin, and other than perhaps rethinking the overwhelming 65-minute length of the album, there’s nothing I would encourage Loss to change or approach differently.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Websites: Loss.bandcamp.com | lossdoom.blogspot.com | facebook.com/lossdoom
Releases Worldwide: May 19th, 2017

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  • A tough, tough listen, but so well done.

    • Eli Valcik

      Hard to get into but very rewarding.

  • Zach Ward

    Madam, you nearly gave me an orgasm with these name drops. I’m going to listen to this right away..

  • AndySynn

    I have not had a chance to give this one a listen yet, but it will have an uphill struggle to dethrone Bereft as my Doom release of the year (so far).

    • Based on your comment, I may check that out – once I’ve had a few days to recover from Loss.

      • Nag Dammit

        Bereft and Loss must be the best death doom band names there are. Would anyone take a death doom band seriously if they were just called Unhappy or Slightly Upset?

      • AndySynn

        And based on your review, I’m going to need to put together a few days of my own to prepare for Loss!

    • Drew Music

      Very much with you on that, Lands is just so friggen good.

    • Nag Dammit

      Like Bereft. The power of Khemmis is strong with these lads.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Excellent job! This is my record of the month. Which is odd, considering I can’t really listen to the entire thing at once.

    • I had the same issue. Managed a few listen throughs in their entirety to get a feel for the cohesion from track to track, but mostly I had to tackle it in halves. It’s a heavy listen… Reading the lyric sheet they supplied was equally tough – beautifully written, but wow they’re hard to sit with and not take them personally.

  • Noctus

    I couldn’t stand ‘Despond’ but this seems more promising.

    • I remember it didn’t sit well with you when it came out. Let me know how this one goes.

      • Noctus

        I’ve already listened once and it was a marked improvement, really liked the last track. Very pleased to hear more diversity in the vocals and the atmosphere. Will listen more. :)

  • The Akerstache

    Holy shit this is good.

    Difficult as fuck to listen to, but also not difficult whatsoever. There’s just something captivating that makes me want more and more even tho I constantly feel like I’ve had enough.

  • Reese Burns

    Not sure if there are many gamers who read AMG, but the short interlude track I.O. reminds me so much of the game Alan Wake. It earns a full point from me just for that. Also helps that it’s some damn good doom metal.

    • El_Cuervo

      hmm I get that too

      • Reese Burns

        Glad to see there’s at least one other Alan Wake player here! It’s such a beautiful game. Whenever I listen to that track, I’m waiting for someone to come in and say “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean…”!

        • metalcasket

          Sucks that Alan Wake was pulled from digital stores.

          • Reese Burns

            Are you kidding?? AW is my favourite game of all time… I had no idea it was pulled from digital shops… I still won’t let it extinguish my hope for a proper sequel though.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            It was on my list to play, but then I kind of forgot about it, and then my 360 went RROD for good. Maybe if it becomes available for Mac, or if I ever get a new Xbox, I’ll play it.

          • Reese Burns

            If you can find a cheap Xbox 360 (most likely a second hand one), I’d almost say it’s worth picking up just to play it.

    • Sean Sky

      I’m a gamer but never played Alan Wake

      • Reese Burns

        I highly recommend playing it if you’re into story-driven games. It takes lots of inspiration from things like Twin Peaks and Twilight Zone, if that makes it sound more enticing. It tells a really beautiful story, there’s even one segment where you fight off a horse of enemies on a stage that shoots fireworks while some Ozzy-style metal plays in the background. It’s such a great game.

    • Eli Valcik

      Yeah it kinda does.

    • Hammersmith

      I 100%’d Alan Wake, it was great. I even found all the coffee cups/thermos’.

      • Reese Burns

        I’ve had the game since 2013, I think. There are still a couple thermoset that elude me, but I steadfastly refuse to consult a guide to find em!

  • Remind me the good old Swallow the sun. Nicey doom :)

    • Meriyas

      The new Lying Figures album sounded very reminiscent of Swallow the Sun to me. If you like that sound you might like that album too.

  • metalcasket

    The last minute of ‘All Grows on Tear’ almost brought me to tears. Why? I have no idea. Fitting. Love it.

  • ssorg

    I see they borrowed this charming Icelandic lullaby: “Sleep now, you black eyed pig, and fall into a deep pit filled with ghosts”

  • ssorg

    So far can’t get into this. Too many predictable and sappy chord progressions. I also read the lyrics, and they didn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s just a taste thing, and this is honey turkey when I asked for mortadella. (for reference, I have enjoyed Inverloch, Vainaja, Spiritus Mortis, Solitude Aeternus and others in the Doom genre…) That said, the album *sounds* fantastic.

    • Eli Valcik

      Yeah I can see your point. You seem to like doom that carries more of a punch and is less drawn out and uneventful. It’s just a taste thing, I usually disagree with most of the high scoring death metal bands so I see where you are coming from.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Welp, now I’m depressed.

  • sir_c

    Oi, The Madam herself tosses in a 4.5.
    Will listen!

  • Jeanclaudevandamage

    Boring.

  • Akerblogger

    Brilliant review. I adore this album. Beautiful music. Beautiful lyrics. Beautiful artwork.

  • huh. Besides reminding me that I haven’t listened to YOB in a while I’m not really feeling this.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    I played this on a 9+ hour flight. That… is a mistake.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Not my cuppa.
    Clouds is about as slow and sad as I can take.

  • Meriyas

    I really enjoyed listening to this one. Very very top notch release with beautiful album art. It’ll look good as a background for the site in July.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I agreed with your score on first listen but I’m having a bit of an Obscura with this one. After numerous listens, I can’t bring myself to enjoy it anymore. No replay value.

    Adam Burke though, holy damn.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Great review. Took me a couple spins but love it especially with headphones. I do agree that I don’t think anything will top Bereft for me as far as doom goes this year that album creeps up in 5.0 territory

  • Gage

    *Yawn*

  • michael rodrigues

    its not bad at all. but i don’t seem to be feeling anything through my listen. current half way through album. maybe it will grow on me

  • herrschobel

    i am a punk. i cant listen to this. now some nasum

  • doom-erik

    Never got in to “Despond”, to some extent due to the growls being a bit whispery and lacking in power, but since I love Mournful Congregation (especially their early material) I will give Loss another chance.

  • Madam as usual, you made my day.

  • asd

    if only the music was as good as that amazing cover art… you either have to be in a very specific state to enjoy this, or it is just not that good.

  • beurbs

    This score should be reduced by a third, to 3.0, because the album is one third silence.

  • Mr. T

    Great review. This took me two months to get into until it finally clicked. It’s not the easiest or most dynamic listen, but when I want something slowburning and intense, it works perfectly.

    • Mr T

      What. I went back in time and listened to this for two months already? This is gonna get weird.