Grief Collector – En Delirium Review

I don’t consider myself to be a serious fan of doom metal because my love of the genre is fairly limited. So you may be surprised to see that I picked up En Delirium, the debut full-length from Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Grief Collector. Well, I’m a sucker for doom metal of the epic variety, so when I saw that former Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Rob Lowe was fronting this relatively new project, I snatched it up without hesitation, marveling that the release had passed through the Steel filter on its way into the promo bin as I did so. Add to that the satisfaction of knowing that I’d stolen some Minneapolis doom right out from under Cherd of Doom‘s nose, and I simply couldn’t wipe the dumb smile off my dumb face. But let’s see if the music itself will keep me satisfied and smiling.

Lowe had been quiet after Candlemass‘ 2012 release Psalms for the Dead, so it has been exciting to see one of epic doom’s great voices return to the mic last year with Tyrant and now with Grief Collector.1 Stylistically, En Delirium has a lot in common with Solitude AeturnusAlone, and while Mr. Lowe’s voice has certainly aged in the fifteen years since that album was released, he puts in a journeyman performance here. Embedded single “Knee Deep in Devils” is a plodding doomdozer that channels Black Sabbath (or their Heaven and Hell iteration) as much as it does either of Lowe’s two famous former bands. Lowe sounds a bit shaky here, but it almost serves to strengthen the hopeless and deranged atmosphere, and the track is a good example of how En Delirium is as much about that atmosphere as it is about the strength of the individual songs.

I’ve always thought that Alice in Chains should be considered a doom metal band — just listen to Alone, and tell me that Rob Lowe’s layered vocals don’t bring Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell’s tortured harmonies to mind — and Grief Collector confirms this assessment. En Delirium uses those AiC harmonies occasionally, the main riff of opener “Corridors” sounds like it came straight outta Dirt, and my favorite track on the album “Misery Mongers” reminds me of a doomier version of AiC‘s outstanding comeback single “A Looking in View.” Combined with the classic doom sound of Candlemass, these grungier, sludgier elements seem to dial up the record’s bleakness levels, making it an authentically emotional journey for the most part.

Not everything works here, though. “10 Days (of Disbelief)” is another quality AiC doomer, but there’s just something about the vocals on this one that ruins the immersion for me — a cardinal sin for a record that relies on atmosphere. There is a bit of variation with the faster pace of “Our Poisonous Ways” and some quicker moments on “The Letting Go” and closer “Scorned Hearth,” but En Delirium still feels a bit too homogenous of pace for my taste. Some songs could have been trimmed down a bit — and the aforementioned “10 Days (of Disbelief)” could have been cut altogether — to pare the record down closer to a lean and mean 40 minutes. Standout tracks include “Corridors,” “Wintersick,” “Our Poisonous Ways,” “When Sanity Eludes Me,” “Knee Deep in Devils,” and “Misery Mongers.”

Grief Collector may not be able to stand up to Lowe’s stronger work in Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth exploring for doom fans. A sinister Alice in Chains vibe has been added to the classic epic doom metal sound here, and it makes for a mostly compelling journey through beautiful soul-crushing vistas.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Petrichor Records
Websites: griefcollectorpetrichor.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/griefcollector
Releases Worldwide: June 11th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Grief Collector did release an independent EP back in 2019 and it will be included with some versions of En Delirium.
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