‘As All Seasons Die’
Svart Records (13 June 2014)
The third album from Finnish funeral doom masters Profetus follows the four seasons of a year, from Spring through to Winter, in what they call “a noble visit to nature’s chapels”. Unlike the violin concertos of Antonio Vivaldi, who had a similar idea a few centuries ago and created a vision of magical colour and variety , it seems that in Profetus’s world, every season is a time of appalling loneliness and sorrow.
This is slow, languid funeral doom that never waivers from its solid, simple base, and yet builds into something melancholic and sometimes beautiful. The dark, reflective intro (representing Spring) introduces two aspects which are subsequently used through the album – namely, the church organ and the spoken word. Both are staples of the genre, and while the former seems ever-reliable in its effectiveness, the latter can feel rather clichéd, whether it’s from Profetus or My Dying Bride. How these musical tools effect you depends on your preferences and experiences. One thing is for sure: Spring-time in Tampere, Finland seems to be less about baby bunnies and pretty flowers, and more about a rebirth of crushing misery.
The first full song (Summer) is like a moose kick to the groin – it hits hard and sends you crashing to the ground. Which is where you will most likely stay in the face of the ensuing procession of pain and hopelessness. There’s no point asking Profetus to help you back to your feet – they’ll simply push you back to the ground and trample your head with their suffocating, heavyweight brand of classic funeral doom. You might as well lie back and accept your fate. Even the church organ, so often a cleansing agent amid the filthy tones that this kind of music inevitably delivers, sounds uniquely wretched and dissonant.
Slow and ponderous, the music is undeniably downhearted, and yet it offers faint glimmers of hope. The riffs build imperceptibly towards teasing crescendos, the organ at times provides a heavenly backdrop, and the dramatic extended guitar solo on the third song (guess what – Autumn) is like a powerful, swirling storm. Finally, Winter comes, and this final track is a 15-minute flowing dirge, packed with freezing snow and imminent death. The song rises and falls with epic, thunderous passages that leave you bowed and broken in its wake.
While the concept behind ‘As All Seasons Die’ covers 365 days of a year, the album itself lasts for more like 36.5 minutes, which is pretty brief. Not that you could handle very much more of this kind of gigantic, overwhelming despair. Profetus certainly do not set out to re-write the long-established funeral doom formula, but within its parameters they create a genuine sense of timeless beauty and solitude in the face of an unfeeling, unrelenting nature, and a deep emotional connection with the listener.