Angmodnes – The Weight of Eternity Review

As one of the primary reviewers of doom metal ’round these parts, I find it challenging to continue finding different ways to say “this music is unhappy.” I can only use adjectives like mournful, miserable, wretched or despondent so many times before I’m tired of typing them and you’re tired of reading them. Before me is the prospect of reviewing not just doom, but death doom, and not just death doom, but funeral doom in the form of The Weight of Eternity by Dutch act Angmodnes, and friends, I just don’t have it in me to google more synonyms for “sad.” For this post I propose a change. In the pursuit of more robust ways to say “unhappy,” I’ll employ metaphor. Instead of sad, I’ll say something like “reading Old Yeller,” or instead of hopeless, I’ll say “New York Jets fan.”1 It’ll be like that episode of The Next Generation when Picard has to figure out an alien language that constantly cites example while fighting a Predator or whatever. We’ll call it the Unhappiness Scale. Since we’re talking about funeral doom here, it should be noted that our Unhappiness Scale will never go lower than “Space Shuttle Challenger,” and could potentially go as high as “heat death of the universe.”

If you’re looking to categorize the kind of funeral doom Angmodnes offer up on their debut album, it’s closer to Mournful Congregation than Skepticism, settling somewhere in the range of Shape of Despair or contemporaries like Lone Wanderer. Most of the components one looks for are there: staggering riffs, deep death growls punctuated by heartfelt cleans and a few choral moments, judiciously used string arrangements and keyboards, although Angmodnes keep their keys squarely in classic piano territory rather than the swelling synths often found in the genre. No new wrinkles or curveballs are offered on The Weight of Eternity, but if you’re looking for keenly written and beautifully played funeral doom, look no further.

Something Angmodnes gets very right is the tone of their riffs, both guitar tone, which is clear and cold, as well as emotional tone. From the first riff on the opening title track, they strike an impressive balance between soaring and wallowing; the emotional equivalent to surveying a dead, blighted landscape from high above where the air is deceivingly fresh. The 15-minute closing track “Under Darkened Vaults” boasts a quintessential funeral riff, slow and doleful, that elevates it to perhaps the best such song I’ve heard so far this year and landing it close to “FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina” levels of sad on our Unhappiness Scale. Both a Y.S. and F.S. are credited simply for “vocals,” so it’s not clear who contributes what, but both the harsh and clean performances are affecting. The cleans in particular are far from the weary or laconic type one might expect. Instead, there’s an edge of desperation that compliments the downcast guitars and piano nicely. I’d rate the cleans “nature documentary where the seal pup you’ve grown attached to is suddenly in mortal peril.”

If there’s a downside to The Weight of Eternity, it’s that there isn’t very much of it. At three songs and 36 minutes, remarkably short for the genre, I find myself getting down to brass tacks measuring each track against the strength of the others. As mentioned above, the riffs on “The Weight of Eternity” and “Under Darkened Vaults” are top-notch. Also great is the late song blast of double kick drums on the title track that offer a counterpoint to the dejected mood conjured up to that point. By comparison, “Hollow Earth” doesn’t make quite the impact. It’s a fine song in its own right, but where the others are great, it’s merely good. It’s “finding out your cat has diabetes.” Sad, but bearable. The other songs are “Fry’s dog from Futurama.”

Angmodnes have crafted an impressive, if too short, debut with The Weight of Eternity. On our completely arbitrary Unhappiness Scale, I’d rate it a strong “Irish Potato Famine.” On our marginally more scientific AMG scale, this is a solid 3.5.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Black Lion Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 30th, 2022

Show 1 footnote
  1. This one hurts. – Steel
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