Woebegone Obscured – Deathstination Review

Woebegone Obscured // Deathstination
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —A thick, meaty helping of doom
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Websites: myspace.com/woebegoneobscuredband
Release Dates: 24.01.2011

Doom metal is a sub-genre that gets a lot of flak from orthodox metal fans for being “boring” or “too slow”, even more so for the processionary pace of funeral doom. Enter Denmark’s Woebegone Obscured, self-described as a “blackened funeral doom” band, with their debut full length Deathstination (self-released in 2007 and now re-released by I, Voidhanger records) – a crushingly slow doom album punctuated by high-energy black metal flourishes and a very apparent progressive mentality.

Discordant guitars howl over a thick sludge of bass and reverb, with the drums setting the speed of the funeral march. From the first track, the careful balance of these elements is very apparent, with each sitting comfortably on top of one another to create a rich, mournful atmosphere. That atmosphere is carried effectively through the first three plus-ten-minute tracks before an instrumental interlude and the title track as a closer. The album as a whole feels very coherent and well paced – designed to be enjoyed as one full helping, rather than a smaller collection of bite-sized chunks.

Woebegone Obscured - Photo by Anders JohansenAtmosphere is what drives funeral doom and Woebegone Obscured have it in buckets. As previously mentioned, the guitars often sound very discordant in places, no doubt deliberately, in order to create a nauseous, disconnected, lost feeling within each song. The chord progressions are thick and repetitive, but far from monotonous, and just before a riff threatens to become stale, another one will step in and pick the song back up. Every now and then the doom lets up a little, allowing Mayhem-esque black metal to spill forth. Lots of blast beats, high-octane kick drums and chaotic notes create a sense of desperation and insanity before abandoning the listener back into the doom void. These stylings, reminiscent of Thergothon and seminal doom metal band diSEMBOWELMENT, are used sparingly, and effectively; making the listener wary of each impending twist and turn through the songs. The riffing is fairly traditional (by doom metal standards, at least), relying on subtle guitar accents and leads to provide texture to the flat, doomy progressions that make up the meat of the songs. So traditional, in fact, I am pretty sure I heard the main riff to Candlemass’ “Solitude” at the beginning of “Coils of Inane Comatose”.

D Woe’s vocals bear special mention for being at just the right places and never being too invasive or overbearing, leaving plenty of room for the other musical elements to breathe. On occasion, particularly mournful clean vocals cut through, rising above the fog before being pulled back down by the dominant death vocals. The low, near-unintelligible delivery makes deciphering the lyrics difficult, but from what I could make out, it is very typical funeral doom metal fare. But then again, with track titles like “A Gust of Dementation” and “Maestitia” (Latin for sadness or grief) it would be difficult to think anything these depressed Danes are doing anything otherwise.

Deathstination is a solid funeral doom album, giving fans of the genre plenty to sink their teeth into. There is also enough innovation in the riffs and arrangement to attract newcomers, though it certainly is not easily listening. Woebegone Obscured are definitely a band to watch in the future, although the book of true doom firmly dictates that they will release one stellar album and then promptly disband. Here’s to hoping the axiom is not true in this case!

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