Blackened sludge becomes the messenger of doom in the latest release from the eclectic North Texas outfit.
Though the metal scene in Texas is no stranger to the likes of Doom, Black, and Sludge, it's rare that a group with the eclectic flair that DEAD TO A DYING WORLD possesses shows up on scene, let alone packing the kind of full-spectrum musical domination that fills the forty-eight minute stretch of their latest opus, Elegy. It's a roller-coaster, ferried from cover to cover with slow, ominous passages and cliffs of melodic, frenzied riffs that pull listeners through ancient times where an untapped wilderness existed without the reins of humanity tearing at its jaws.
It begins as calm as water. Syzygy, a captivating starting track brings a long melody for a ride as vocalist Mike Yeager belts a sad song of funereal tidings, and the coming cessation of organic life. It doesn't feel metal. The smooth individual tones, while resembling the glacial stride of Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper, can't hide the strength and concise message of the vocals — and one can't help but draw strong comparisons to the glorious, mild soundscape of such groups as Murder By Death. The monotone, even delivery of every syllable and measure feels as if a harmonious symmetry is present. This song is the sign of things to come, but not of things that are expected.
What follows is an exercise in heavy stamina that is nothing short of aerobic. The Seer's Embrace, an eleven minute, weapons-grade, fluid-as-hell splash and thrash killer that takes the best of Blackened riffs, with a singing melody in the spotlight, and turns them into a hoppy, foot-stomping crash track that brings everyone closer to what Elegy is truly meant to be. The crust-punk vocal signature is in full-effect, and it follows Heidi Moore's distinct, articulated lyrics through to the break. Behind it lies another surprise, a soothing soft ballad in the vein of Pallbearer, that is a pleasant oasis before embarking into the harsh storm of a much more pleading, wailing outro.
Vernal Equinox is the reason metal can coexist with any other genre. It should be applauded that Eva Vonne's phenomenal string work can hardly be compared to other works, as it stands unique, shoulder to shoulder with titans of years long past. Listeners are in for a treat. Haunting, serene, and sure to be the highlight of many a future tour, this track is a gateway that will find a home among veterans of the scene, as well as casuals alike.
Though its presence as an interlude track is somewhat stated by its length, coming in at just over two and a half minutes, Hewn From Falling Water, a silky smooth transition featuring a cyclical chant with matching guitar ticks endlessly in the distance, pacing out an ill-fated atmosphere clouded by fog and ice. Passing another elemental theme, the album makes its purposeful course to its victorious ending, a fourteen and a half minute marathon that makes dramatic use of every member of the cast.
Apocalyptic viola segments crescendo downward to the allusion of the seasons changing dramatically, familiar black metal meets its sister elements in their prime here, matching visceral post-punk influences with classical melodies to create a compelling composition that can only be described poorly. This reviewer would do the album a supreme disservice to verbally express the plan that comes to fruition shortly after eight minutes into the majesty that is, Of Moss and Stone. It's the final feeling that what is being heard will soon be lost. An echoing, returning, angry sound of cymbal lightning, and viola wind-shears, and nature's agony howled through the dense forest sound off, as this cataclysmic performance is suddenly consumed — destructively, violently — as tri-tone and and bass rumble are taken back by the Earth. It's an ending that will leave their audience shaken. In an instant, the magic is lost.
Elegy is not just blackened-crust sound when it matures. It's not just melodic black metal. It isn't merely an atmospheric marvel combining sludge, doom, and the finest black metal ferocity the genre has to offer. It's proof that the landscape of the American Black Metal scene is evolving by the day, merging fundamentals with a technical mindset that can reach a wider audience. This is death row metal; something to be acknowledged on its own merit, created as a step above the status quo of the genre, and not to be compared to the other bodies of work by the band itself. If this were your last musical meal, you may well be content with that result.
This is the heaviest of art.
Overall score: 10/10
FFO: Giant Squid, Ecocide, Cormorant, Cult of Luna, My Dying Bride
Elegy releases on April 19th, 2019. Pre-order your copy right now HERE.