In Grief – An Eternity of Misery Review

I have a complicated history with doom metal. While there are groups like Electric Wizard or High on Fire that I tend to turn to for my fuzzy, morose fix, I have more trouble with the deathened doom variety. Sure, you can’t shake a stick at the likes of Asphyx (and why would you? They’re old men and so very brittle), but executed poorly, you mix doom’s plodding passages with DMs unrelenting barrage, resulting in a bloated, brickwalled concoction that leaves your eardrums ringing and your watch over-checked. Be that as it may, I’ve been proven wrong before (except for our split review of Temple of Void’s latest) and there’s always something new to discover. Hence why I swiped An Eternity of Misery, the debut album from Italy’s death-doom degenerates In Grief; the band name, album cover, logo design and especially the record’s straightforward title all indicated the kind of fatalistic sorrow I yearn for in my depressing doom sojourns. With my Lexapro dose still working its way through my veins, let’s take a look at what this trio of doom dealers are doling out. 

In Grief aren’t delivering a lot here that’s new, but what do they do bring to the table resonates. It takes multiple listens and a few replays of certain songs before you get a true sense of what they’re going for on An Eternity of Misery, and I have to say, for the most part, I appreciate their approach. As I’ve often found when treading doom’s dense waters, there can be such an overemphasis on heaviness that a crucial aspect is lost; for doom to work for me, I need it to be as emotive as it is crushing. I need the impending sense of doom to eventually give way to enduring melancholy. I may come for the chunky, impenetrable riffs, but I stay for the mournful moods. On An Eternity of Misery, In Grief are mostly able to walk that fine line, delivering the deathened, doomy goods while not being afraid to delve into softer but equally bleak territory. 

“Beyond the Dark Veil” is a solid opener, featuring an engaging, thick main riff and gruffer, Martin van Drunen-adjacent vocals. ethereal synths, strings and a piano interlude cut through the maelstrom to inject that miserable dose of melancholy that make the heavier doom sections all the more impactful. While the following three tracks are variations on In Grief’s death-doom theme, fifth track “Demons” is a definite standout because it marks such a departure from the rest of the material, veering straight into Candlemass territory. Cue the clean, augmented vox, melodicism, and heady atmosphere. “Dig Hopes” and “Close to Insanity” lean into the synths and strings without skimping on the death-doom onslaught, but by this point in the album, even with the inclusion of a few bells and whistles that harken to my favorite aspects of the genre, things start to feel stale.

Doom metal is no stranger to big riffs that chug along, slowly repeating and deftly building a cloying, omnipresent environment. On An Eternity of Misery however, In Grief take this penchant for repetition too literally. There’s a catchy main riff that appears on first track “Beyond the Dark Veil.” It rears it head again in following track “Ярна.” Third track “Curse My Soul” features a version of that very same riff, only elevated slightly with some extra guitar noodling. And just to make sure you heard it, they recycle it yet again on “Queen of Babylon” and go on to play similar versions on two additional tracks. While there are plenty of derivations within individual songs to keep things somewhat interesting, the eternal return of that riff not only lowers the overall score, but indicates a larger, more foundational problem. Adding in bloated run times and harsh but otherwise impassive vocals, and In Grief have delivered a passable but fundamentally flawed debut.

I’m glad I scooped An Eternity of Misery from the cholera-choked promo pit. While I ultimately found it a disappointing listen, I heard a promising, nuanced band beneath the too-long tunes and ineffective repetition. This outing may not scratch my death-doom itch, but given time to iron out the kinks and cut the fat (and perhaps pursue the sound they flirt with on “Demons”), I’d wager In Grief have what it takes to deliver the gloomy goods. I’m miserable with anticipation.1

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed:  320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Releases Worldwide: September 2nd, 2022

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  1. That’s the cholera talking. – Steel
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