There’s no way around it: depression is a bitch. I’m not talking about the kind that visits briefly after watching ‘Requiem for a Dream’; I’m talking about the kind that dowses your reality in darkness, buries the world under ice, then bares its teeth and screams into the wind, until the grim leviathan itself is all that you are aware of. The beast can be summoned by such various factors as genetics, trauma, or even the fucking weather, and knowing how to fend it off can quite literally be the difference between life and death. For many, this means hiding in the warm glow of a positive support system when the emotional forecast calls for misery. I, however, am a storm chaser. When others bury their heads and chant “Rain, rain, go away”, I light a cigarette and whisper “Hello, Darkness, my old friend,” then wallow with the likes of Katatonia, Clouds, Draconian, October Tide, Saturnus and so very many more.

My point: I’m no stranger to emptiness, I have used music as an outlet for my own struggles with depression for almost thirty years and my music library is positively littered with negativity. The sounds of being depressed have haunted my ears in varying shades of grey for as long as I can remember, but never before have I heard an album embody depression itself with the same level of unnerving perfection as Slow’s V – Oceans does. A 55-minute slab of Belgian sadness, Oceans harnesses the darkest powers of our subconscious depths and renders them exquisitely, crushingly real. If that icy giant from the first paragraph ever recorded an album, this would be it.

Pianos punctuate the surrounding dark, adding the vaguest shimmer of light yet illuminating only misery with their doleful keys. The guitars craft dense atmospheres somewhere between Clouds and Départe on despairoids, effectively robbing the listener of breath as they churn their way through the stifling seas of sadness. Percussion is delivered effectively with a sense of patience that defies mortal attention spans, but it’s Déhà’s tremendous vocals that steal the show and lend it its credibility. These are not the sniffles of the voice in your head telling you that Ben and Jerry will save you. This is the ancient guttural roar of depression itself, the timeless evil of mental turmoil sonically brought to life.

It should come as no surprise that Oceans takes the turtle approach, and by taking things… unfastly, Slow more than win all throughout the album. The payout of Déhà’s monstrous bellows when the piano-induced suspense of “Néant” finally explodes floors me every time, an emotional reaction made possible by refusing to rush. Similar rise-and-fall dynamics feature heavily throughout the album, and they all work to devastating effect. Subsequently, Oceans works best when experienced front to back, alone and in the dark. This may be easier for some than others, given Oceans’ 55-minute playtime, but c’mon. You knew what you were getting into here.

Music is my favorite way to confront depression, and Oceans has crawled to the highest point on my low list. This is not musical commiseration, but a monolog by the monster itself. There is no happiness here, but sometimes that’s the point. If you’re up for being so down, I promise the rewards are worth it.

Tracks to check out: “Oceans (Full)”

  • André Snyde Lopes

    “I’m no stranger to emptiness”

    Me neither, trust me… Not for Music is a great album, one of my top 3 from last year!

    • Yeah it was!
      I was quoting October Tide, though.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Eh, October Tide was never the same after Rain Without End…

        • While I agree, I still love Tunnel of No Light. The last one did nothing for me, though, and that bums me out more than any funeral doom ever could.

        • IBlackened

          Yes! The old Katatonia magic.

    • Awesome record.

    • sir_c

      That, and don’t forget their Nothing But The Whole EP.

      Slow are an excellent addition to the list. Must be something weird in the Belgian water I guess.

  • Lithophyte

    There has been some great and wrenching music reviewed on AMG in 2017 and this sounds like another. Will listen. Anything to keep the black dog at bay.

    • This will engulf you in despair, but only in the best kind.

    • brutal_sushi

      “wrenching” the perfect word for music like this… Literally rips your heart out of your chest.

    • PeskAD

      “The black dog”. I wish I was articulate enough to have invented that description for the ghost that haunts our days and nights!

      • Lithophyte

        Not me, Churchill. And I’m sure others before that.

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    Nice to see some love for Slow here! Gut wrenching record.

  • Yolo Swaggins

    Sounds right up my ally. Music truly is a life-saver for me. Without it…

    • Same boat, yo. I could never fully describe why if I tried, but music is more my thing than anything else is.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        I suffer from clinical depression (sad hamster syndrome ) and this type of music ironically is very healing when I’m having a crash.
        This album, Swarm Of The Sun, Clouds and Katatonia are so effective they should have RX numbers.

        • Same, manic/depressive bipolar and I honestly don’t think I’d have it any other way. Adolescence was hell when I didn’t know what was “wrong” with me yet, but learning how to deal with it/process it effectively has lead to a fuck ton of excellent moments, plus helped develop character in general.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            It’s the ability to feel stuff so intensely that makes me both prone to depression and conversely makes me able to appreciate art and music at a level others can’t.
            It also helps as a singer/songwriter.
            I write my best stuff when I feel like crap lol

          • Stop being me, yo. For real though you’re 1000% preaching to the choir, whenever I describe it to others I typically sum it up as “I feel things more deeply”, and as you said that tends to lend itself uniquely to various art explosions. Sometimes only a max capacity bladder can get me to move out of bed when I’m going through a down phase, but the times that that darkness compels me to write or play guitar are some of the best artistic moments I could ever hope for. It’s all what you make of it, yo.

          • IBlackened

            I can really relate to this conversation, specially the part of feeling things more intensely, which is also why I love alcohol. I think I wouldn’t change even if I could, though. Life would be… bland.

          • Grymm

            Same here. Don’t get me wrong, I HATE being sad or depressed, but I also know now how to process and deal with it. It also allows me to appreciate doom metal (or powerful music in general) that much more than most folks do.

          • herrschobel

            i am with you 100%…though i would highly recommend to go without alcohol…just as an experiment…i love drinking but it does nothing positive (longterm!!!) for your ability to connect and intensify your feelings…affective emotions, maybe but not ‘feelings’ that lurk much deeper … just my 2 cents but i have been studying every almost every substance on earth related to mood/ emotion/ spiritual grwoth and so forth .. alcohol is fun…but it doesn´t help at all

          • IBlackened

            Thanks man, I really appreciate that, but don’t worry. I’m drinking once or twice a week now, at most. And it’s generally wine, nothing really extreme recently.

          • Slimylimey

            Same here. There’s some albums I can’t listen to anymore because they impact my depression negatively (haven’t listened to Draconian Times in 20 years). On the flip side Nortt’s music for me totally encapsulates the essence of depression but in a way that is cathartic/therapeutic. The Reticent’s last album too.


        • Nukenado

          That’s what good music does!
          I don’t have a mental illness (well, a little bit too much anxiety, but the threapist told me it wasn’t severe), but when I get angry or a bit too-much self-hating it’s music I turn to.
          A Swarm of the Sun is amazing for healing after a self-hatred session. It’s the closest experience I’ve had to meditation. You don’t escape from negativity with an album like that. It calms one down, and you look your problems dead in the eye.
          And after it’s all over, you inhale deeply and then exhale, and it feels like renewal.

          My go-to angry band is Anaal Nathrakh though. I just want to belch out “GET ON YOUR KNEES, SOAKED IN HISTORY’S FLAMING CUM!” whenever I’m angry.

        • PeskAD

          Wanted to sound off here, if nothing else for the comiseration with those who who moor on the steadfast wharf that is extreme music. It’s no coincidence that we all found the genre at age 13, when we were at once both emotionally ancient and musically naive insofar as melody, brutality and wisdom.

          Reading all of these comments here has been nothing short of life saving. I swell with optimism when I see so many who have flirted with the void and returned intact, with excellent album recommendations to boot. MoM: what you’ve facilitated here is something special and I have no doubt you’ve course corrected some wayward souls have understandably drifted off course. This is the best site on the internet.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Deluge is a monster!

  • Nukenado

    I still have trouble getting into funeral doom.
    My deep sadness this year was oddly enough, not done by metal. Until Grier showed up with Amenra, I’ve been using Marissa Nadler and Chelsea Wolfe to deal with negative thoughts this year.

    • It’s not for everyone, but when the mood strikes there’s nothing else that’ll get the job done like the loooooong slooooow sadness of funeral doom. Déhà’s in a fuck ton of other bands, of them I’d suggest checking out Clouds as they’re a bit more melodic and have just a tad more life to their movements. Then there’s Maladie, who are just nuts and non depressive at all. Yhdarl are also excellent… The dude’s just ridiculously talented, if this doesn’t do anything for you he probably still has a band or two that does, The Metal Archives can point you in the right directions there.

      • Nukenado

        Hmm, all check out Clouds.

        • Nukenado

          (What kind of drugs was I on?! “‘All’ check out Clouds”?!)

      • Nukenado

        Answer: I like this muchos.
        About Metal Archives though. Their definition of “metal” is incredibly narrow. Anything “punk” is viewed as non-metal even though punk has the closest association to metal than about all the other large genres. I want to find similar bands to AtomA damnit.

        • sir_c

          Even though their music is different, try the former band of some of those members: Slumber. Their Fallout album is some excellent melodic death metal album that still stands strong after all those years.

          • Nukenado

            AtomA is actually the last Jari Lindholm project I got into.

  • Wes Allen

    “Unfastly” is my new favorite word. Planning to use it in a sentence today to impress my coworkers.

  • ToddRob64

    Hold on a minute, the one that hits us with multiple yo’s is at least 32? (thinking depression couldn’t of kicked in before the age of two)

    • “Almost thirty years” could be misleading, “nearly” may have been a better word choice. I’m 29, yo.

      • ToddRob64

        Well now I somehow feel older even though we are the same age

        • I’m pretty ok with that. I pretend to be a Muppet on a website that prays to Jørn and attacks anonymity with unicorns, if I was doing things to feel/be mature I’d be someone else entirely.

          • ToddRob64

            Haha I like that response. I’m definitely not close to the mature side of things that’s for sure

      • Thë Brycërøy

        Jeez laweez, man, were you born with a prescription to Prozac? I’ve been enjoying of deep despair since puberty, but damn, I really don’t think mine goes back BEFORE that.

        • I would say depression started at about 9-10 for me, but music for/as catharsis in general has very much been a lifelong thing, and that’s more where I was trying to go with that: music has always been my foundation, backbone and shell through the years and emotions. Technical muthackas…

          • Thë Brycërøy

            Weird how it manifests in all of us differently, and we deal with it differently. Video games were always my outlet until I burned out and mostly quit gaming, then music became my go-to. However, not this, not at all this. When I’m down I try to go for, if not exactly uplifting, then at least “fun” music, so I at least have a bouncy soundtrack to my mind twisting every thought into self-hate.


          • “This is not meant to bring you joy. This is not meant to give you any solace. This is the cold, ugly truth of what happens when we put off our rose-tinted glasses, or when they are violently ripped off our noses. May you find peace with this state of mind one day. May you embrace this pain and allow it to make you stronger. May this teach you how to turn this poison into an antidote.”
            -spoken word intro to “Ténèbres”, sums it all up perfectly.

          • Thë Brycërøy

            Ok, fair, but to counter, I would say quite a few albums I’ve listened to recently were not intended to be a joyous or enjoyable experience, yet I found them to be that anyway. It’s the whole YMMV and Diff Strokes/Folks thing, at the end of the day.

          • Oh absolutely, we appreciate the readership no matter what, and if nothing else you got to babble a bit and no one had to go troll hunting. With metal, everyone wins.

          • Thë Brycërøy

            I can express dissent and dislike without trolling. I just choose to use lots of words to do so. Verbose, that’s it, I’m verbose.

          • You’re with your own, my friend. Where you see verbosity, I just see someone who wishes to make sure they’ve articulated their point exactly as they intend for it to be understood. Defying all 2018 (or is it 2108?) logic, this is not always able to be achieved through 150 text characters/emojis.

          • Thë Brycërøy

            Gotta give people context, man. Otherwise you’re just declaring I LIKE DIS or I NO LIKE DIS while providing no reasons WHY, and if nothing else, I care a lot about that ‘why’.

          • “I care a lot about that ‘why'”
            Don’t tell anyone that, they’ll think you’re crazy!

          • Thë Brycërøy

            They’re not crazy, I am!

          • Nukenado

            Do you want a video game catharsis (?) trip?
            Play Bioshock. It’s the video-game equivalent of a well done post-black album.

          • Thë Brycërøy

            Oh, I played the shit out of the first one back in the day. Still have my Big Daddy figure and the Little Sister I bought direct from 2k. That game was a goddamn masterpiece. The story in Infinite was cool, too, though I felt they phoned in the combat, as it wasn’t near as satisfying as the first game.

  • dinob0t

    Like the album, this review works to devastating effect.
    “…unfastly,” “high point on my low list,” “up for being down.”

    The gloomicorn is the icing on the cake.

    • I’m pretty pleased with the unicorn, I requested something tasteful and the P’s that B more than delivered.

      • You’re welcome. You owe us.

        • Dälek says I owe you nothing!
          I suppose I’ll consider your debt repaid, though.
          It’s a burden being wonderful like me.

          • Prepare thyself for awful promos.

          • You’ve seen what I have marked, I ain’t scurred.
            Punishment to those who deserve it, though: if I’ve done anything wrong, it’s in big bold print and may or may not be the fucking page title… Leave the courtyard lights on for me, please.

          • sir_c

            If the promos bring anything near Slow, quality wise, then feed them plenty to this humble reviewer. You won’t hear me complain, for sure.
            But somehow… I have a feeling your intentions are different

      • Eli Valcik

        White Walkercorn?

  • Matt slatz

    Nice review,. I think this will strike all the right depressive chords for me as well. Although nothing has stuck me as hard as the real depressive lyrics of woods of ypres, this may come close

  • Thë Brycërøy

    This one fell totally flat for me, Muppet. Me and my depression are going to look elsewhere, as this unchanging gray soundscape is just…boring.

    • At least you tried. If you can listen to “Néant” or “Déluge” all the way through and still feel that way, the rest of the album certainly won’t change anything for you.

      • Thë Brycërøy

        This ultra down-tempo stuff has the same issue across the board for me: there’s not enough going on musically for my mind to play with, and that’s mostly what I listen to music for. All I can create with this is sort of a shuffling death-slog through a featureless landscape, which is Metal on its own but DAMN it’s dull. Maybe I just don’t “get it”, I dunno.

        I think I’ll take the plunge into Taake today, instead. Something new-to-me.

        • Taake’s always a good choice!

          • Thë Brycërøy

            I’m still figuring out what I like and don’t like in the Black Metal spheres. Taake is different than a lot of what I got into last year, which is when the subgenre and I started going steady.

            I’m starting with Kong Vinter and going backwards. I’m liking it so far.

  • Malhorne

    AMG is way too far in the future year of 2108

  • Diego Molero

    Hey Drew, are you familiar with A Swarm of the Sun? The Rifts is my go-to pure sadness album.

    • I am and I love that album!

      • Name’s Dalton

        Have you heard Slint?


          • Name’s Dalton

            I’m a heartless bastard, I know. The closing song, “Good Morning, Captain,” album off Slint’s Spiderland, launched a thousand imitators, and along with the likes of Bitch Magnet, Gastr del Sol, and Tortoise, kinda sorta launched this whole post- thing, including post-metal. I write that because post-metal is really just post-rock with screamier vocals, and maybe a little (or a lot) more heavier guitar.

      • Nukenado

        “It’s all
        It’s all
        It’s all
        …for you.”
        — A really fucking sad song

        • While you’re here: go fall in love with Bloodbark before they become cool, their debut is only one euro ($1.24) on Bandcamp and if you report back dissatisfied I won’t believe you.

          • Nukenado

            Seriously speaking, how do you fucking find this stuff?! Do you actually tag dive?

          • If by tag dive you mean “scroll through the endless seas of Bandcamp offerings in specific genres” then yeah. A lot of it – specifically within atmospheric black metal – is weak clone bullshit, but that kind of heightens the sense of reward when something turns out to be good.

          • Nukenado

            Yep, what I meant.
            Respect, dude. I tried doing that for grindcore and now feel like dying slowly.

          • Nukenado

            Also violin opening. Classy.

    • sir_c

      The hopelessness of The God Machine is not yet surpassed I believe. Two absolute masterpieces of albums, and I don’t say that quickly.
      Nor the plodding doom of Disembowelment, it almost takes a full day to hear two snare drum beats.

      • Diego Molero

        I’m not familiar with The God Machine. I have seen the name but never heard the music. But I will now since you say they are THAT good.

  • One More Thing

    That was an excellent review. I think I’ll read it again while I check out this band.

  • brutal_sushi

    I don’t like “regular” doom metal. But put on that Funeral tag and I’m ALL ABOUT IT! Slow, plodding, depressive, and empty… yet at the same time melodically beautiful. *queues Illimitable Dolor

    • Name’s Dalton

      Check out God Disease. They’re latest EP absolutely FLOORS me. Or, rather, pushes me through the floor.

      • brutal_sushi

        Not slow enough for me lol… No, but seriously, not what I was expecting coming from a Funeral Doom discussion, but absolutely YES it crushes.

  • Selby

    This is a brilliant review. I have leaned into music to manage my own shadow for many decades.

  • dumbidiot

    Cool album. Has that depressive yet optimistic vibe that I get from Loss. It’s a gloomy day here and this is the perfect soundtrack to ignore my colleagues to.

  • I.B. Hurtin

    I used to think I was the only that listened to depressing music to lessen my depression. Then a friend told me “If it wasn’t for listening to Black Sabbath while growing up I would have killed myself.” I was totally shocked! It’s great that folks here can be open about it and take comfort in music that happy people hate. Happy music is the worst when you’re depressed. It makes me angry and want to hurt the happy band.

    • To be fair, I typically despise anything where you can hear the happiness regardless of my mood. There are plenty of exceptions to that, but for the most part I just do not like anything that sounds actively cheerful. As for depressive music as a tool, I think a lot of people often mistake the negativity inherent in confronting depression as something to avoid because it requires you to directly acknowledge/feel it, and thusly they avoid making any actual progress with their issue. I don’t think depressive music “makes” you depressed in the sense that it’ll merely cause you to be sad, I think it brings whatever’s weighing you down to the very forefront of thought/emotion, forcing you to give it your full attention and think your way through it all. I hope that makes sense, yo…

  • Kmill

    I’m generally even keel and moderately happy. Do I dare rock the boat?

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’ve really moved away from doom as a genre and in the last year really only listened to this album as a speculative “Name Your Price” chance find on bandcamp and Horizonless which I gave a shot due to the critical acclaim it was receiving here…
    I have to say I think this is probably the better of the two albums IMO

    • This was also a random NYP blind buy for me, though with a much more apparent payout here. They finally have vinyls available, I’ve just gotta hold out for 2 more paychecks to get caught up on “more important” financial decisions/”responsibilities” and then one of them bad Larry’s is mine. I love it when things play out that way, I’d say the system works.

  • Voetsekker

    One of the year’s best…just stunning.

  • PeskAD

    I have such a troubled relationship with Failure, Subside. It was the score to this year’s darkest hour for me and, to my chagrin, I’m fearful of subjecting myself to repeat listens lest I illicit the same emotions that occupied me when Sam Dishington’s vocals first washed over me in desperate fury. With the benefit of hindsight I’m confident that the lion’s share of desperation and fury was a projection of my own shit as a result of the inner devils that had my heart in their clutches at the time.

    A reevaluation of medication has yielded some positive results, but the shame I associate with the grey beauty of that record still dogs me. V – Oceans feels like catharsis for that oversight.

    • I wish I had something insightful or at least witty for that. I think it’s important and even admirable to be open about going through any kind of depressive episode, it’s never comfortable for anyone but neither is bottling yourself up and I’m glad you’re in a place where you can discuss such things. I hope you continue to push through whatever held you down, beyond the fact that things can always get better Failure, Subside is just an absolute masterpiece and it’d be a shame to be unable to revisit it. The important thing: do whatever works for you, there’s no wrong way to be yourself and if it requires a little work/help then so be it.

  • JL

    Droning and boring.

  • CoconutBackwards

    God dammit. Not on Spotify.

  • sir_c

    The Belgians and depressed music… they are some combination. Just like Emptiness this is just some devastating piece of art, which almost makes it impossible to listen to, too scared to get sucked in too deep.

  • Lucas Lex DeJong

    Bell Witch, Loss, Hallatar, Clouds…It’s been a crushingly sad year for metal. Love it.