This release came into my life at either the best or the worst possible time. As I sit here writing this review I had just lost a dear family member and am still coming to grips with his passing. For some listening to a Doom Metal album, of all things, at such a time could be therapeutic and consoling, for others it could be the last thing they need to fill their ears with. Well, I’m sitting here and even though this album evoked more than a few melancholic emotions from me I must say that even though it is an incredibly heart-wrenching sonic journey it is also one of incredible beauty.
Anyone that knows me will attest to the fact that I am not the world’s biggest fan of Doom or Funeral Doom. I do, however, enjoy it greatly when I’m in the right mood. Some music is meant to bash the skull in while others are there to embrace the soul. This album falls into the latter category and this Norwegian band’s sorrow-filled blend of depressive Doom and ethereal Gothic elements might just be the best album I’ve heard in this style for many years. Take the best elements of MOURNING BELOVETH, NOVEMBER’S DOOM and latter-era KATATONIA and you’ll have an indication of this band’s sound. Even though they are classified as a Funeral Doom band I feel that they are more of a mid-paced Doom band with lush Goth-tinged orchestration thrown in for good measure. Sure, there are many bands playing this Doom ‘n Gloom style but only a select few that come off as honest, genuine masters of the art of Doom. These guys are masters. This is an album wrought with lengthy tales that regale the listener with tales of loss, mortality, sadness, but also of hope.
At first everything on here sounds pretty straightforward and almost too linear for its own good but repeated listens will unearth this album’s core beauty. Being mostly an album filled with mid-paced riffs, monotone baritone vocals and intermittent keyboard orchestration, “From These Wounds” will not bowl over the listener with dazzling experimentation and soaring vocal histrionics. It’s strength is its subtlety – every note complements the one preceding it and the keyboard lines are so beautifully written and woven into the songs that all the listener can do is sit back, think, and even cry. The are many highlights here, whether it’s the heavy Doom riffs of “Pendulum”, the absolutely transcendentally beautiful orchestration in “Red Moon” and “The Architecture Of Loss”, or the brilliant little closing guitar solo in “Vagrant God”. I use the term ‘beautiful’ many times in this review as it really is the only way to adequately describe the music. My copy has a bonus track, “Breathing Through You”, and it is undoubtedly the highlight on here. Beginning with riffs soaked in the well of despondency and, yes, beautiful vocals it soon develops into an emotionally-grinding semi-ballad that is just beyond words. They way the guitar solos segue into the excellent keyboard/piano line near the end is GENIUS. This track sealed the deal for me folks, so try to get the version with this bonus song.
One cannot conceivably sit through this album and not be moved. An atmospheric tour de force is what “From These Wounds” amounts to. Everything is spot-on but special mention has to go to vocalist Frode Forsmo and keyboardist Jon Borgerud; the inspired vocal performance of the former and the touching melodies of the latter are just about as perfect for this style as it can get. The tone is overwhelmingly sad but faint shades of light and hope occasionally pierce the morose veneer. I doubt there will be a better Doom album this year; some albums bleed emotion, this one gushes it!!!
(Online May 22, 2007)