I’m not sure if it’s “fitting” or “ironic” that I received a promo from a band called Dead to a Dying World. After a week of some unfortunate shit hitting way too close to home, I’m further convinced that “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” (as a close friend would say). The thought of being a voiceless observer watching the world kill itself is a heavy burden to carry into Dead to a Dying World‘s sophomore outing, Litany. Hailing from Texas, these doomers dropped a surprising combination of instrumentation (including upright bass, viola, and cello) and cross-genre influences into their self-titled debut, along with a depressive shell of lyrical content. Fusing a blackened-doom foundation with Mastodon-like sludginess (while retaining a great deal of heaviness), Dead to a Dying World employs these additional stringed instruments to create an inescapable mental sinkhole.
As the soothing friction of bow-on-string gives way to the standard atmospheres of post-black tremolos and vocal rasps on “The Eternal Hunt,” it becomes clear that Litany plans to draft Dead and then overcome it. As the song transitions from post-black to some slug-paced doom and clean vocals, the opener shows a band dead-set on experimenting with colors and textures, while fine-tuning its strokes and brush work. After a near seventeen minute run-time filled with ups-and-downs and doom-and-gloom; varying vocal contributions ranging from Mike Yeager’s rasps, angelic cleans, and brutish Mastodonian grunts, to Heidi Moore’s beautiful Ava Inferi-inspired delivery; and the Cobalt-set-to-viola build toward the end of “The Eternal Hunt,” the opener finally lets go for a much needed exhalation. Moving with a drooping heart, the soft-spoken viola, the gloomy Yeager-Moore duet, and vocal lines like “each day is more grey than the one before” haunt the staffs of follow-up “Cicatrix.” Soothing – yet depressing – this track is sure to leave you feeling as hopeless as a penny lost in a heater vent.
Similar to “Cicatrix,” the instrumental “Sick & Sunder” is a five-ish minute piece meant to calm the soul while suffocating the heart; these intermissions to the chaos do little in the way of bringing “peace of mind.” Following “Cicatrix” and “Sick & Sunder” are “Eventide” and closer “Narcissus,” respectively. Both open with the doomy essence of their predecessors and utilize the viola of Eva Vonne (Sabbath Assembly) and the sludgy urgency of Yeager’s voice to crush your world once and for all. “Eventide” transitions halfway through with a layering of face-punching barks and rasps before yielding its fate to Vonne. With beautiful guitars in tow, she drags this corpse through the same purgatory Green Carnation‘s Light of Day, Day of Darkness is built upon before this trapped animal begins to pull itself free and emerge to the rhythm of the most captivating piece of writing I’ve heard in a long time. It’s the kind of material you long for and similar beauty can be found in the intro to “Beneath the Loam.” These leads grow and push each song to its limits but the atmosphere remains and your spirit becomes further crushed.
At just over an hour, Litany is a journey only appreciated by the ghosts that haunt you, and its sole purpose is to remind you of your fragile mortality. Fluctuating between DR6 compressions (“The Eternal Hunt” and “Eventide”), and the fully open DR10 of “Sick & Sunder” and DR11 of “Cicatrix,” Litany repeatedly pummels your ears before allowing them to rest. Though I would have liked less-compression in the overall end-product, the effect actually works and Billy Anderson’s contributions behind the scenes benefit Litany greatly. The instruments are crystal clear, the vocals have power, and the songwriting is better than the debut. However, as the layered cleans of Yeager close out the album, my urge to press play again is only held back by its runtime. If it was a more digestible length – like its precursor – this would be near-perfect to my ears. Regardless, this album will be with me for a long time and it does as it was designed; leaving me feeling dead to a dying world.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Tofu Carnage Records
Websites: deadtoadyingworld.bandcamp.com | deadtoadyingworld.com | facebook.com/DeadtoaDyingWorld
Releases Worldwide: October 16th, 2015