Busy bee Ed Warby is back with the second album under the THE 11TH HOUR moniker, an album I had been looking forward to for a long time – basically ever since the release of their debut “Burden Of Grief” in 2009 (wow, time flies!). Said debut was a good fairly epic Doom Metal album with both clear and harsh vocals, but without ever stepping over the line into Doom/Death territory. Since then the duo has grown into a full band and Swedish growler Rogga Johansson was replaced by OFFICIUM TRISTE fronter Pim Blankenstein, whose growls I prefer, for some reason I’ve never been a fan of Rogga’s voice.
Anywho, “Lacrima Mortis” is what is on the dissecting table today and take whatever was good on the debut and imagine it even better on this one. Even though it is the second time now that I am exposed to Ed’s voice, I can’t stop to be amazed about how good it is and how well it actually fits the elegiac music of THE 11TH HOUR, warm and melodic as it is and it is well countered by the growls. One of THE 11TH HOUR’s biggest strengths overall are the brilliant melodies and vocal lines, which have the ability to draw you right in, but without pushing it into the foreground too much. Instead they form a near-perfect union with the deep atmosphere and the well-utilized interplay between the two vocal styles, resulting in one of this year’s Doom highlights.
Within the album it is difficult to point out single tracks, since they all form a very homogenous whole, shifting a little left and right from the Doom centre, but despite very much sticking to the genre’s mainstay parameters, the way “Lacrima Mortis” is coming together is what makes it such an outstanding album. The standout tracks of “Rain On Me” and “Bury Me” (indicating a distinct lightness and joyfulness within the lyrics) bring us these irresistible melodies coupled with the lava-like rhythm and the sparsely yet very efficiently used growls. And the nice thing is that without openly prostituting themselves, THE 11TH HOUR have the potential to appeal to a quite wife variety of fans, be it Death, Doom, Gothic or any kind of atmospheric kind of Metal, you should be able to find a lot to like on this album.
To boot it comes with a great production, which is clear and warm, but never comes across as sterile, lending the morose atmosphere the perfect vessel to transport the emotional depth that Warby has created with “Lacrima Mortis”. 2012 seems to be shaping up to be a good Doom year, with CANDLEMASS, BILOCATE, EREB ALTOR and obviously THE 11TH HOUR. If you like your Doom traditional yet at the same time different than what you are used to getting, THE 11TH HOUR’s sophomore album is for you!
(Online June 22, 2012)