Descend Into Despair - Synaptic Veil - (8.5/10)
Published on October 9, 2017
Three years ago, the Romanian funeral doom act Descend Into Despair gave us an impressive and dense debut in The Bearer Of All Storms. While the double disc set was very engaging, the sheer length of the album was a little much for multiple listens. However, the band has restrained things a bit, and now given us their second album, Synaptic Veil. Released back in June 2017 via Loud Rage Music, the five track album features some engrossing and, for lack of better word, despair ridden doom.
One look at the track listing should let you know that the band has become more restrained and zeroed in on their sound for this new release. The music itself is of course slow and mournful, with some very heavy, plodding riffs making up the majority of the guitar work, but the band is never afraid to shy away from some melodic leads and solos. The drumming adds not only a good heaviness to these songs, but also becomes hypnotizing at times during the slower parts, such as around the halfway point of the opening track. The bass work is not to be discounted by any means either, adding a great thickness that really helps to accentuate the downtrodden atmosphere the band goes for.
Vocally, the album starts off on a less than great foot, but makes up for it as it goes along. While clean vocals are of course never bad in and of themselves, the opening song does feature more cleans than the rest of the album. Sadly, they fall somewhat short, and almost set the album off on a bad foot. The interplay with the sung vocals and spoken word is not out of place in funeral doom, but something about them here feels out of place next to the music. However, the deeper growls that come in more than make up for anything else and leave a great impression. There is a feeling of hatred mixed with sorrow in the harsh vocals that the cleans do not quite match, and there is something utterly menacing about the vocal performance. Haunting and evil, they fit the sorrowful music so well, that it brings up the enjoyment of the record as a whole. “Demise” is a perfect example of when the band is able to really shine. As the halfway mark of the release, the track features the band giving you everything they have. The keyboard and acoustic guitar driven sections are nearly hymnal, and haunting, while the clean vocals make another appearance, and mix incredibly with the harsher vocals and spoken words to dive home every aspect of the variety the band is able to provide. As a centerpiece for the record, “Demise” stands as the best example of what the band is capable of.
The production and mixing job on Synaptic Veil is also of note, with the entirety of the band’s performance sounding clear, while not taking away or minimizing the clear emotional effort put into the songwriting and execution. Throughout the near hour playtime, no part of the band feels like a second thought, or feels overshadowed by any other instrument or section. It allows the group’s clear love of the genre to shine through, and doesn’t muddy any of their transitions.
While albums always come out at any given time of the year, funeral doom in the beginning of summer doesn’t always sound like something that works. The darkness of the music and anguish of the lyrics lend themselves better to cold drunken nights in Winter. However, Descend Into Despair were able to bring that darkness to the summer months and give fans of the genre something to clamor about. Despite being a still fairly young band, these guys are already two for two in the quality department. Fans of funeral doom, or even depressive music in general would be wise to check out the sophomore effort from this Romanian group, and should be keeping an ear out for them in the future. You should expect great things from this act as time continues to move along.