It is somewhat amazing to see, where PAGANIZER’s Rogga Johansson pops up these days… In most cases it is Death Metal, brutal Death Metal and very brutal Death Metal, but in the case of THE 11TH HOUR he is kind of breaking his style pattern. Now to be fair, this is not another one of his projects, but he is the guest growler, the man behind this is Ed Warby, best known as (former) drummer for ELEGY, GOREFEST, HAIL OF BULLETS and AYREON/STAR ONE, who is the lone song writer, the singer, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and, of course, drummer, who is living out his love for epic Doom Metal on “Burden Of Grief” and his very good clear voice has this lament-like quality (befitting the style) that is starkly contrasted by the deep growls of Rogga, that I’ve never been a fan of, but still complement well in order to build up atmosphere.
And with that I already am mentioning one big thing with THE 11TH HOUR: atmosphere. Warby has managed to write some excellent melancholic and sorrowful hymns that will be able to sweep you away into despair (and the lyrics/song titles do their part), so that it is not surprising that Austrian Metal forge Napalm scooped this project up in a heartbeat. Musically I would put the Dutchman closer to CANDLEMASS and SOLITUDE AETURNUS than the more usual Doom/Death luminaries, with the growls setting them apart from them at the same time. What’s also nice is that despite mostly staying in the slow regions of the genre, the songs don’t get boring or one-dimensional, also thanks to the clever use of quiet breakdowns and subsequent build-ups (see “In The Silent Grave”), so even Doom can have good dynamics.
I really have to point out Warby’s surprisingly good singing voice, since it fits perfectly and as mentioned above, the growls do bring in an extra element, but overall do not really elevate the song in my opinion, on “Origins Of Mourning” the whole composition is a little harder to digest, maybe because it is the song with the highest growl content overall? I am not sure, but right after “Weep For Me” shows how great the song is with only clear vocals, atmospheric and epic, just like closing “Longing For Oblivion:
Now THE 11TH HOUR do not offer anything groundbreaking new, but the atmosphere and melodies together with the dynamics and Warby’s voice make this album highly enjoyable for the Doomhead and I hope that “Burden Of Grief” will see a continuance, especially since there is a full line-up (studio and live) by now, so that is good news. Check them out, chances are that you will fall in love with this clump of melancholy!
(Online June 29, 2010)