2019 hasn’t given me all the doom goodies I’ve been craving thus far, and that makes me a churlish Steel. Since I tend to take it out on the AMG staff, this becomes a lose lose situation for all involved. This led me to hope Texas doom mongers Destroyer of Light might alleviate my essential doom deficiency with their third album, Mors Aeterna. I wasn’t familiar with their past works, but the promo one-sheet caught my attention by namedropping Sleep, Electric Wizard and Mercyful Fate. Well, Mors Aeterna is definitely doom, but it’s more in the ancestral line of Candlemass and Black Sabbath than any of those promo PR teasers. That doesn’t mean it isn’t promising though, and these Austin boys know how to craft a weighty riff and drop it just so on your eggshell skull when the time is right. Is that going to be enough to alleviate my lack of doom blues? Let’s see.
After a fairly innocuous chamber music intro, you are whisked off to the House of RIFFS by the nearly 8-minute marauder known as “Dissolution.” This is doom for doom lovers, by doom lovers, welding stoner grooves and swagger onto the classic doom template. All the greats are referenced at one time or another as things swerve between fat grooves and crushing leads. Steve Colca delivers gripping vocals that sound like a more manly, truck driver version of Ozzy as he and Keegan Kjeldsen riff their hearts out. The music manages the perfect balance between loose and jammy and structured linear progression, with every second put to good use. This is the good stuff, folks. After such a musical codswallop, “Afterlife” was destined to feel a bit underwhelming, though the discordant, nerve-jangling leads in an otherwise very Candlemass-esque number make for an interesting pairing. Things pick back up for “Falling Star,” which showcases the band’s trippy, laid back side and demonstrates that they have more than a few tricks up their collective sleeve. The simple doom chug is complimented by hypnotic vocals and some top-notch guitar-work, which goes off the main path at key moments for extended jams that carry you to strange, mushroomy places.
“Loving the Void” is another standout, creating an expansive soundscape through the use of odd, entrancing guitar harmonies and melodic flourishes. This one lays on the doom mood thick and heavy, bringing in 70s Sabbath elements and some haunting, ethereal background vocals to really punch a hole in your love void. The lengthy closer “Eternal Death” borrows a handful of pages from Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, and who am I to complain about the pilfering of such revered source material. They do it justice too, approximating the feel of that timeless classic at several junctures. Not every cut hits as hard as these best in show though, and “Afterlife” and to a lesser extent, “Burning Darkness” though good, don’t quite elevate to that next level of magical doomy goodness. Another issue is the overuse of interludes. There are 3 of them and though they’re all well done, they break the album’s flow rather than enhancing it. They pull me out of the mood the songs carefully craft and then the next song is left to try to re-submerge me after the interlude runs its course. This is not the best game plan and the album ends up feeling disjointed as a result.
Performance-wise, this is a very skilled group. The guitar-work is really interesting and Colca and Kjeldsen are quite adept at balancing their jammy tendencies with linear writing and straight-forward doom riffs. The songs never feels bogged down or overly long, and the little accents and flourishes they embed are very effective. Colca is an effective vocalist, sometimes following the way of the Ozz Man, and at other times approximating Messiah Marcolin, had he never developed a taste for opera or attended Vibrato University. There’s a big, fat bass presence courtesy of Nick Coffman, and he does a great job, adding that crucial low-end rumble quality doom requires.
Mors Aeterna is a solid doom platter with a few bulldozer songs designed to flatten the unsuspecting. It’s close to being very good, but some slight inconsistencies and the over-use of interludes holds it back. That said, I’m impressed enough with what the band is doing to start tracking down their older material. They’ve temporarily abated my doom withdrawal and for that I am grateful. Give this a spin and put this act on your radar.