The Slow Death – Siege Review

Transcending Obscurity always makes a concerted effort to deliver quality releases throughout each year of operation. I’d think most labels, especially ones focused on metal music, share the same ethic. However, what sets Transcending Obscurity apart for me is the sheer variety of extreme metal artists they recruit. Sure, there’s plenty of brutality on board, not to mention about seven thousand active Rogga projects. But then you get things like The Slow Death, a funeral death doom outfit from Australia who stand poised to deliver their fourth LP, Siege. There is no doubt in my mind that there is quality to behold in this release. The only question is, what kind of quality are we talking about?

Siege deals in heavy, emotional stuff, and if you have even just one single heartstring, you’d better clutch it before this record pulls it. Between the soothing, yet simultaneously seething clean vocals, rumbling growls, galloping riffs, mournful leads, and smooth transitions, Siege presents itself as a sorrowful dirge evoking war-torn city streets. The record plays much like an autobiographical account of horrific events in history—the kind of events that would earn themselves status as a pivotal moment in a class war or other socio-political revolution. Even though I can’t determine if that’s truly what Siege‘s story means to portray, I can say for certain that it means a great deal to the band, as its careful construction lends a singular character to the record, created out of focused vision.

Introductory track “Tyranny” is evidence enough that Siege is a significant album for the band. Melodies, whether sourced from a guitar or a voice, cry out with a desperation that only manifests in those who feel deeply that which they express. One moment in particular stirs the senses, wherein one note, coupled with the word “streets,” sustains for a spell only to bend with a sneer up the register and back down again. It’s a subtle thing, but that moment gives the entire twenty minute opener definition and memorability with astounding effectiveness. Close behind, “Famine” swerves into the foreground, and demolishes the streets with a thundering gallop that belongs on a far less dour record. That singular riff seals that song’s memory in my brain, as do the bell tolls which follow. Small details such as these, where minimal songwriting elements brings memorability to expansive epics, complete Siege and give it life, weight and personality. As far as I’m concerned, that’s an admirable feat that demands respect.

On the other hand, Siege is terribly bloated. During initial spins, the deeply integrated emotional content and gravity of the subject matter carried the album through to finish without much sense of fatigue. However, the more time I spent with it the more I felt that each of the four tracks which compose the record require a lot of trimming to be most effective. “Pestilence,” for example, features an introductory segment that is about five minutes too long, and left me trying in vain to predict when things would get moving. Move things eventually do, and in the end the buildup pays off with a really cool verse/riff combo. However, even that immensely cool moment overstays its welcome, stretching the song several unnecessary minutes longer still. I also have qualms about the production. Rough hewn and raw in a purposeful way, Siege sounds every bit as gritty and unforgiving as its composition suggests. However, the vocals struggle to rise above the grime, occasionally getting lost in the instrumentation entirely. The effect is inconsistent as well, which makes for an uneven sonic experience.

In sum, Siege represents an excellent album marred by some less than excellent flaws. The production is easy to overlook, I’ll concede, but the bloat is not. There is simply too much material here that drags the record along stretches of emptiness between significant portions of compelling songwriting. While conviction and talent abounds, The Slow Death need to edit down their work to take advantage of the incredible sense of mourning their best moments embody. For now, consider Siege a successful record for the genre, albeit not an essential one.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: facebook.com/theslowdeath | theslowdeathdoom.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: August 27th, 2021

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