Finland has a dark legacy within the subterranean world of doom metal. Browsing the Encyclopaedia Metallum’s list of Finnish bands [What!? Know ye not yer metal by heart!? — AMG] reveals the likes of funeral doom pioneers Thergothon and Skepticism, as well as other underground stalwarts of the genre such as Wormphlegm, Shape of Despair and Stabat Mater, to name a few. Indeed, the Finns do not fuck around with their doom – perversion, depression, sadism and Lovecraftian horror is the name of the game. Even the more traditionally oriented Reverend Bizarre was similarly steeped in lyrical and musical despondency alongside their trademark tongue-in-cheek snarkiness.
Yet, here we have relative newcomers Domovoyd. Somewhat of an anomaly within the country’s pitch-black doom metal reputation, Domovoyd is a stoner doom group that looks to the likes of Electric Wizard, Sleep and The Sweet Leaf for inspiration. Surely the lurid explosion of color adorning their debut 2013 record Oh, Sensibility recalls Mastodon and Baroness and makes lofty promises of a mind-melting trip into other dimensions.
To be honest, the “doom” tag almost becomes an irrelevant and inappropriate term for Oh, Sensibility as a breezy, stoned lethargy and a more than obvious ’60s/’70s psychedelic rock influence dominates the tone of the record; there is little “doom” to be found. Even the somewhat bleak horror movie kitsch of stoner stalwarts such as Electric Wizard is eschewed (despite bearing heavy musical influence from the legendary English doom troupe), if the vaguely druggy song titles and tripped-out album artwork are of any indication (the lyrics are nowhere to be found, vocals as sparse as they are).
But let not the Electric Wizard comparisons end there; the production here is thick, hazy and absolutely soaked in reverb and copious amounts of THC [Does that make the production an illegal substance? – AMG]. What separates Domovoyd from this school of doom metal though is their decision to maximize the acid-soaked psychedelic jams (usually a peripheral component within this genre) and minimize the Sabbathian focus on guitar riffage. The instrumental improvisations are surprisingly expressive and flesh out the band’s true strengths. Guitarists Niko Lehdontie and Oskar Tunderberg do great work delivering all the promises of the psychedelic phantasmagoria adorning Oh, Sensibility’s album art with layers upon layers of painterly guitar effects. This is best illustrated by album closers “Effluvial Condenser” and “Argenteum Astrum,” with the former showcasing the rock-solid rhythm section of bassist Dimitry Melet and drummer Axel Solimeis. Check out the rubbery bass/drum work at about 4:26 of “Effluvial Condenser” that glues things together while the rest of the band drifts into airy, meandering territories.
This sonic approach is applied evenly and uniformly across Oh, Sensibility’s six tracks—in fact, the record is best viewed as a 52-minute long piece rather than an ordinary collection of songs. I’ve been using the term “songs,” but they’re truly indistinguishable from each other. None have much of a distinct identity, and most unblinkingly bleed into one another.
Imagine if Sleep took healthy doses of DMT before writing Dopesmoker, and you’ll get a good idea of the kind of thing you’ll be getting yourself into. However, unlike doom masters Sleep and Electric Wizard (who worship at the altar of The Riff), Domovoyd carry themselves through Oh, Sensibility by pure tone alone, which ultimately stops them short of the greatness of their influences at this point in their young career, even if what they do is pretty dang solid already. So if more traditional, riff-addicted heshers find little to enjoy here, those who have a sweet tooth for aimless, zoned out stoner jams will certainly find much to savor. In which case, don’t hesitate to drop out of life with bong in one hand and your 12-inch vinyl copy of Oh, Sensibility in the other.