Aphonic Threnody – The Great Hatred Review

Dark, moody doom death with gothic touches is a dish best served in an isolated, wintery cabin where only faint hints of sunlight can penetrate the deep freeze. Aphonic Threnody attempt to deliver exactly this kind of dour dish on their third album The Great Hatred. Following in the downtrodden footsteps of My Dying Bride and Saturnus, the duo making up this project are determined to turn your mellow into blubbering Jello™ with titanic doom riffs, booming death roars, and all the heart-tugging sadboi embellishments you’ve come to expect, from forlorn piano to weeping violin and pained clean singing. The Great Hatred uses all these tricks and treats with grace and tact while breaking no new ground whatsoever in the process. Eh, broken ground is overrated anyway. On with the sad show.

My initial impressions of opener “Locura” were somewhat muted. I like the overall style and approach as this is my metal wheelhouse, but I was initially put off by the inclusion of symphonic choral elements. I’m not opposed to the concept, but the way it is mixed here reduces everything to a thick, soupy morass. I can cope with it, but it’s a shame to see a good song that delivers a brooding dose of melancholic doom death get saddled with such a sonic handicap. Things improve markedly on the 10 minutes of “Interrogation” where the production smooths out and the band come into their own. Over its generous runtime I’m reminded of Shape of Despair and Saturnus as a doomy plod is leavened adroitly with sad, trilling harmonies. There’s enough going on to keep you tuned in and the mood is richly grim. The 10 minutes feels like considerably less, and that’s a great sign. The title track borrows several pages from Novembers Doom with a more upbeat, aggressive approach and here the clean vocals really resonate and add to the downcast milieu. They even bring in some sobbing strings toward the end for Dying Bride bonus points.

The two best moments are “Drowning” with it’s Draconian meets vintage Paradise Lost mood and structure, and closer “The Fall” where a bracing Insomnium breeze blows through the proceedings. The former is a touch more melodic than the rest of the album, but the doom riffs are high quality and the sorrow quotient is kept high at all times. I have to hand it to the band – they’re quite good at making long-winded doom songs feel tolerable and accessible. I rarely found myself looking at the clock during playthroughs and no song screams for major editing. Considering this thing runs 56:46, that’s quite an accomplishment. My biggest gripe is the production. Aside from issues with how “Locura” was mixed, there are a few moments of audio clipping present, and there’s a slightly unfinished, raw feel to the overall sound that doesn’t help the material.

Juan Escobar C. handles the vocals as well as bass, keys and guitar. His death roars are quite inspired and lend a hefty weight to the doom and gloom. His cleans are solid, though they make an inconsistent impact over the album’s runtime. They’re used sparingly though so this isn’t a major issue. Riccardo Veronese mans the guitar alongside Escober C. and together they craft some very enjoyable doom moments. I’m especially keen on their forlorn harmonies and sad trills. That’s the kind of thing doom lives and dies by, and you can almost feel the grief and desperation waft off the notes the duo concocts. That’s what a trve doom fan looks for and it can be found here in abundance.

The Great Hatred is an enjoyable slab of darkness you can get lost in. Production issues hold it back, but I’m quite taken with this platter of despair and I expect to wallow in its misery muchly over the next few months. I will also be examining their back catalog for additional heartsick gems. If you feel the encroaching tendrils of winter slowing surrounding your warm and still hopeful heart, you best stock up on stuff like this. It’s beginning to look a lot like an isolated COVID winter.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Websites: aphonicthrenody.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/aphonicthrenody
Releases Worldwide: October 16, 2020

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