Oryx – Lamenting a Dead World Review

It’s not often that doom metal turns my head these days. Growing up as an impressionable teen in rural New Hampshire, I hunted down as many CDs at Newbury Comics from as many different subsets of doom metal as I could, whether it was the likes of the Peaceville Three, or the more biker-influenced style of Americanized doom metal. But while I still love those bands, it has to take something special to cause my head to turn and take notice. That something special is the one variety of doom that creeps forth from your speakers with hellish intent, that sound that does everything in its power to make you as uncomfortable as humanly possible while slowly grinding you down into a fine crimson powder. Doom like Hell, Primitive Man, and today’s subject of intense scrutiny, Denver’s Oryx.

Right off the bat, looking at the five songs and their total combined length of just a hair over 41 minutes, Lamenting a Dead World delivers a powerful punch without any of the unnecessary fat usually associated with doom or sludge. Opener “Contempt,” the album’s shortest non-instrumental at four-and-a-quarter minutes, lays waste and gets out pronto, with guitarist/vocalist Tommy Davis and bassist Eric Dodgion throwing down heaving riffs and enough atonality to keep things interesting, all while Abbey Davis pummels away on the drums, turning their riffs into a powerfully convincing death march. Tommy’s guttural roars and birdlike shrieks bring to mind Hell’s M.S.W.’s intense vocal acrobatics, sending the music hurtling through the depths of depravity and despair. In other words, Oryx is doin’ it right.

But while there are no bad songs on display here, Lamenting a Dead World really hits its stride on the album’s final two proper songs. “Last Breath” marries the band’s dalliances with black metal atonalities with one of the album’s most hypnotic riffs and rhythm sections. Meanwhile, the epic closer “Oblivion” utilizes all fifteen of its minutes effectively, where on the song’s second half, they borrow a page out of Pallbearer’s playbook and construct an incredibly heavy, dirge-y backbone for Tommy’s guitar to soar over, delivering one hell of a solo to close out the album. It’s not often that I praise longer songs, but “Oblivion” truly felt like a journey from start to finish, and one that I wanted to experience all over again once it wrapped up. It’s that fucking good.

From a production standpoint, Lamenting a Dead World doesn’t compromise. It’s heavy, compressed, and it feels like several elephants are sitting on your chest. In other words, it fits the album’s (and Oryx’s) modus operandi to a T, and while it skirts dangerously close to being too overbearingly heavy, it thankfully doesn’t cross over that line. But what keeps Lamenting down a bit lies in the slightly formulaic songwriting in the album’s first two tracks. Like I said, while they’re not bad at all, “Contempt” and “Misery” don’t offer enough variety or hit with the same viscerally hypnotic draw that “Last Breath” and especially “Oblivion” have in spades. Also, the instrumental title track is as take-it-or-leave-it as it gets, and depending on your mood, you’ll either let it play through or skip it after a couple listens.

But if you love doom or sludge at all, especially the kind that makes you feel gross and disheveled afterwards, you won’t be skipping Lamenting a Dead World. Denver’s been cranking out some incredible doom as of late, with Primitive Man turning heads left and right, and Oryx threw down one incredible album here. Give it the time and required headspace, and you’ll be journeying into the depths right alongside them. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Translation Loss Records
Websites: oryx.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/theeoryx
Releases Worldwide: April 30th, 2021

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