The 11th Hour

Burden Of Grief

Written by: EW on 16/10/2009 23:55:03

"Diagnosed with a terminal lung disease, haunted by unspeakable nightmares..."; so begins the explanation of the concept behind "Burden Of Grief", the debut album from part-Dutch/part-Swedish duo The 11th Hour. Behind the facade of The 11th Hour lies a supergroup of sorts: we have mainman and multi-instrumentalist Ed Warby of Gorefest, Demiurg, Hail Of Bullets and others, and growler Rogga Johansson of Edge Of Sanity, Demiurg and Paganizer collaborating on a "wish-come-true" album of pure doom for Ed, a significant deviation from the death metal past for both of them.

New to the creation of doom the duo might be but a long history of appreciation towards the genre is imminently obvious in the slightest listen to "Burden Of Grief". Recalling most prominently the legends Candlemass (both new and old) and Solitude Aeturnus, and the less ancient Isole (raising a credit to their brilliant "Silent Ruins" this year), the style played is a most honest and humble take on the epic doom sub-genre flexed in a modern suited production (ala Isole). Being humble and true to the genre's ethos "Burden..." is not one for moving faster than it needs to, usually residing in the 'slow-mid paced' section of the genre, yet the defining aspect of it is the growled vocals of Johansson. Now of course I trust the idea of a pure doom album was a collaborative one between two good friends, but with Warby writing all the songs, playing all instruments and contributing some worthy clean vocals of his own I wonder if the growls of Johansson are really required. His Akerfeldt-meets-Swanö death metal style provide a sharper edge in their moments than Warby's soulful croons but such is the way in the world of epic doom, a pleasantly haunting clean vocal goes a long way further than in many other metal genres, and I'm just not sure if the music is dark and brooding enough to necessitate the throaty growls we are sporadically treated to.

As well as judging the variation in the vocal styles the quality of music mustn't be forgotten, oh no. Epic doom has never been awash with a multitude of bands, and for that I am eternally grateful O Lord, meaning much of what one hears is entirely listenable, and this dear reader is the case with "Burden Of Grief". But little more. Those I rate most highly in the genre of late have either taken the genre in a fantastically epic direction (Doomsword) or simply pushed the classic template that bit further (Isole, again) but The 11th Hour could be well accused of simply playing by the rulebook without offering anything new. Yes there are much worse accusations out there but "Burden Of Grief" is just a little too safe in it's epic doom regimentation to garner top marks. "Atonement", thanks mainly to Warby's passionate requests of a dying man, backed by a wonderful synth backing, is a very good listen and "One Last Smoke" is so Candlemass it would fit right in on their recent "Death Magic Doom", but the special element of fragile beauty key to the genre is noticeably missing. Even with the intelligently inter-woven theme of a dying man's last moments, concluded by the cold beeping of a life-support machine come the end of "Longing For Oblivion", the ingredients for a great doom experience are somewhat incomplete, leaving us an album for the 2nd tier of the epic doom pantheon.


Download: Atonement, One Last Smoke
For The Fans Of: Candlemass, Isole, Doomsword, Solitude Aeturnus
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 02.11.2009
Napalm Records

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