God Disease – Apocalyptic Doom Review

Look, sometimes snap decisions have to be made, with attendant low expectations attached. Picking Apocalyptic Doom, by Finnish death doom trio God Disease became necessary when, to my utter delight, I discovered the thing I was supposed to be reviewing this week in fact released in February. The rabble that now infests the once great AMG Towers had hoovered up most of the promising promo for the week and so I was left with little to choose from. But, just sometimes, you get lucky. Real lucky. And this was My Week because, not only was I able to ditch my original promo1, but, much more importantly, Apocalyptic Doom is an absolute fucking banger. The follow-up to 2019’s Drifting Towards Inevitable Death, this is the second full-length from God Disease. The band’s early work, beginning with 2014 EP, Abyss Cathedral, was very much death metal oriented. But, over the band’s three subsequent EPs and Drifting …, the trio increasingly embraced doom in its sound.

Bringing us to Apocalyptic Doom, which may in fact be a simple descriptor, rather than a title. This is death doom. And it’s death doom done as death doom ought to be done. Massive and muscular in scale, oppressive and brooding in atmosphere, and yet with a blackened, melodic note that gives it that undefinable edge. If you’re thinking of the rich brutality of Exgenesis and the bone-rattling slow burn of The Drowning, you are definitely on the right path. You need to add in just a few nods to Enshine, however, and a blackened trem edge to the guitars on the likes “Built by Dead Hands.” While I wouldn’t go quite so far as to term God Disease progressive, the songwriting is expansive, teasing the listener with nods to different influences, like the distant and haunting clean vocals that swirl in the background of closer “Serenity Abandoned,” or the melodic death lead that opens “Leper by the Grace of God,” the heaviest offering on Apocalyptic Doom.

Vocalist Ilkka Laaksonen is a man possessed, spewing forth volcanic, earthquake-inducing roars. From the first sulphurous bellow on opener “Ashes,” Laaksonen is the personification of the hellish cataclysm conjured by his bandmates. Interestingly, God Disease boasts no guitarists in its line-up, so guitars on Apocalyptic Doom are courtesy of guests Are Kangus and Samantha Schuldiner. Mixing tectonic doom riffs (“Ashes” and “Remembrance”), with harrowing leads that evoked a sorrowful sea lapping gently on burning shores, if there are no plans to bring Kangus and Schuldiner into the fold permanently, God Disease would do well to get working on them now. This is patient, carefully choreographed stuff that feels somehow vital in its delivery. Influences such as early Swallow the Sun and the heavier elements of Soliloquium (like “With or Without” from An Empty Frame) come through clearly in the guitar work on Apocalyptic Doom and this is all to the good.

That is not to suggest that the work of the standing members of God Disease is anything less than stellar. Mika Elola’s work behind the kit is great, largely eschewing blasts or anything approaching them, he focuses instead on sheer impact, as his restrained beats land with artillery-like force. While only occasionally venturing into faster tempos, like when God Disease hits a swaggering groove about halfway through “Futile Effort to Breathe,” Elola’s work is impressive in its restraint and very much the backbone of this record. Contributing to the sheer mass tonnage of the album, Henry Randström’s bass is also integral to what makes Apocalyptic Doom such a great album. As with records like ExgenesisSolve et Coagula, the production here is key and the mixing (Olli Nokkala) and mastering (Henri Sorvali) are both bang on. God Disease sounds huge, without the master being too loud or tiring, and all the elements are carefully layered, like the strata in sedimentary rock.

I only picked up Apocalyptic Doom for review on March 6th and here I sit, on the evening of March 8th, with it being probably my most played record of 2023 so far. I basically haven’t turned it off for the last three days. God Disease has blown me away with the intensity, heaviness, but also skillful songcraft and delicate touches, on show here. The emotional heft and vibrancy the band packs into the album’s modest runtime means I can only do one thing: break the poor Score Safety Counter2 for the first, though probably not last, time this year.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Gruesome Records
Websites: goddiseaseofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/goddisease
Releases Worldwide: March 10th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. An awful piece of Danzig worship called Your Star Will Collapse by Sír.
  2. My appreciation to Steel Druhm for softening it up for me.
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