Slow – VI – Dantalion Review

An indifferent moon silently presides over an ocean bejeweled with the shimmering ghosts of stars, witness to all and concerned with none. The air is alive with salt and sea breeze, the water as clear and cold as the uncompromising truth that is mortality. You, of course, are aware of precisely none of these things, nor of anything else aside from your own clear, cold reality: You’re fucking drowning, yo. Waxen, hypoxic skin and waterlogged lungs are all that you are here, a stifled testimony of abject self defeat and an inconsequential offering to no one; defeated, drowning… dead. This is what the darkest shades of depression feel like, a perpetually cold and helpless state of being on the wrong side of a near death moment as the world around you spins on, unaffected and insouciant. VI – Dantalion is the soundtrack to such a self-sustained drowning, seven songs of sadness so Slowly sincere and savage it’s somewhat sadistic.

Before I proceed with today’s scheduled tongue bath, I profess that Dantalion elicited a begrudging Muppet quibble or two, loathe though I am to concede this fact. For one, there’s that mix. One could argue that it’s deliberately and effectively stifling, as to properly embody the overall atmosphere of Dantalion and whatnot, but personally I wouldn’t mind if these otherwise delightfully freezing waters were just a little less murky. My other quibble – which is more of an observation, but one which may escalate to full-blown quibblery among you wretches – lies with the album’s massive run time. It’s no secret that Slow is an unfast entity, and no one ever dives into a funeral doom album for a quick 3-4 minute dip, but at a staggering seventy-eight minutes front to back, Dantalion is a downright colossal affair, and – just this once – I can understand how daunting and unapproachable it might seem to you delicately impatient little flovvers.

With the charade of objective quibblery out of the way, let’s talk cold, hard facts. Fact: you should love this album and you’re terrible if you don’t Dantalion retains many of the sonic elements that made V – Oceans such a masterpiece of modern funeral doom, adhering to the sound of Slow but also expounding upon it. Monolithic slabs of cloying disconsolation wash over the listener like so many achingly familiar waves – and yet these despondent tides carry new life within these cruelly nostalgic waters. Déhà’s Ter Ziele cohort Lore, who penned the lethally lachrymose lyrics of the last Slow leviathan, has taken on an official capacity within the project, handling arrangements, bass and backing vocals for Dantalion. This is still the Slow we’ve come to know, yo, yet there is a greater sense of ethereal atmosphere and all around vastness to Dantalion compared to past drownings, and everyone is the better for it.

Beyond increasing the man… er, womanpower of Slow, Déhà has also upped the Déhàpower here on Dantalion. As stated above, this is still Slow, but it’s also perhaps the Slowest Slow to ever have Slowly Slowed. The dirgeful growls of Oceans seem almost jovial in comparison to the towering force of apocalyptic grief to be found within “Incendiare,” and the suffocating sorrow of “Géhenne” is just that: suffocating, a sonic invocation of asphyxiation by way of titanic, glacially paced guitars and a voice like the thundering maw of Hell itself. By the time closer “Elegie” arrives, its gentle acoustic funeral march is the first time the listener has been allowed to breathe, though each desperate breath only grows more ragged and strained as the air gives way to diaphonous piano and rising string arrangements: the storm has passed, the waters have calmed and a soul has departed. Dantalion carries listeners along by the throat for its duration, only to at the very last second adjust its fatal grip into a delicate, intimate embrace as life itself is bade farewell.

Slow have always excelled at creating captivating funeral doom albums, but the intensely immersive experience that is Dantalion suggests to me that true perfection might lurk just beyond the horizon. With the convincing ferocity of this performance being what it is, truly the only thing that I could want more from this album would be a clearer mix and maybe another blue-centric album cover. Such minor quibblery aside, Dantalion hits painfully, brutifully, and otherwise flawlessly. Any such faults are few, far between, and in all fairness fairly familiar fare for fans of Déhà’s work, but when Dantalion hits home – i.e. from when you hit ‘play’ until the album stops – it does so with masterful, devastating force, and no other funeral doom album has rocked me so hard all year.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps WAV
Label: Aural Music
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 8th, 2019

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