AS AUTUMN CALLS
‘Cold, Black & Everlasting’
Rain Without End Records
(On sale October 25, 2013)
The very best Doom Metal bands acknowledge that without joy there is no despair, no darkness without light. They are able to marry these opposing forces with originality, eloquence and gravitas. On the evidence of this new album, Canada’s As Autumn Calls deserve to be ranked among the very best Doom Metal bands around.
Cold, Black & Everlasting is a slow, spellbinding and hugely impressive exploration of the shadows. Avoiding the introspective self-indulgence of some other bands to have previously reached such lofty heights (including Anathema, whose formative works peek through here as an influence), As Autumn Calls have created a genuine work of art that lifts the spirit while simultaneously casting a deep shadow across the soul.
The last release from this exciting Ontario band, An Autumn Departure, in 2011, was packed with a vast amount of promise. But now they have taken their music to another level: more mature, breathtakingly atmospheric, heavier and denser, with growled vocals summoned from the deepest pits of Hades. As Autumn Calls tap the same vein of pain as early Paradise Lost and yet they manage to achieve the epic highs of Candlemass.
All seven of the songs on Cold, Black & Everlasting are incredible, but in particular ‘These Doleful Shades’ is so good you might have to change your pants after listening to it. Featuring, in the space of 12 minutes, more heart-wrenching riffs than many bands can muster in their entire career, this song shows that elegantly-crafted simplicity is often the most effective way to convey the deepest of emotions. Amongst the colossal riffs, the album is bound together with a number of reoccurring touch-points, including choral backing, jangly guitar passages and higher-tempo Bathory-esque crescendos. That’s not to say that Cold, Black & Everlasting ever gets predictable: in fact, essential to its charm is its ability to surprise.
There are a few very minor indiscretions which explain why this album doesn’t score a perfect 10. The first half of the second track ‘Black Night Silent’, with its high-pitched guitar and clean vocals, does not mesh together perfectly. This should perhaps have been pushed further down the album’s running order, although the skull-shattering second half of the song makes up for any dissatisfaction. And, to be pernickety, a few of the drum fills attract a little too much attention to themselves, the bass feels a bit harmless at times, and the piano tone occasionally has the merest hint of Ibiza club anthem, which is hardly ideal for the bleak, hope-murdering brand of metal being unleashed.
This album has been on a constant loop here at DoomMetalHeaven for the last few days, and we have no intention of turning it off anytime soon. It is clear that As Autumn Calls draw from a deep well of inspiration, and if they keep up this kind of standard, we could be talking about one of the greatest Doom Metal bands the genre has witnessed.