posted on 3/2005 By:
What a banner year for doom 2005 is shaping up to be. In just a few months we have seen outstanding efforts from bands across the genre, including Om, Ramesses, November’s Doom, Slumber, and Mourning Beloveth, as well as a handful of others. Now fans of funeral doom, the most underrepresented doom contingent, have something to cheer about (or be miserable, if they prefer). Pantheist have weighed in with Amartia, a funeral doom album more than capable of keeping pace with the throng of doom successes this year. Since their well received 2003 debut, O Solitude, the band has shuffled members (Kostas and Nicolas remain) and relocated from Belgium to the United Kingdom. They have also further developed their considerable talents and should rightfully reap the rewards of the fruit of their labors. Funeral doom enthusiasts are unlikely to find much this year to compete with this album.
Amartia is a sprawling, seventy five minute affair that is based on the seven deadly sins. Having already been to that well once, Pantheist have taken this opportunity to rework the songs “Lust” and “Envy”, which originally appeared on their 2002 demo, 1000 Years. However, even though the band has revisited these songs, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Amartia is a simply a rehash of earlier work. Pantheist are clearly stretching their wings on this one, and doing so without overextending themselves by moving too many iterations away from their core. The organ is still an important ingredient in their sound, but they have added more variety to the use of keys. The vocals get similar treatment, spanning growls, spoken/whispered lines, chants, and clean vocals. The album opens with the eleven minute “Apologeia”, which kicks off with solemn chanting of “Amartia”, before the music begins and the song unfurls in a measured, regal anguished gait. Deep and mournful clean vocals mirror the weaving, guitar melody, giving the song a funeral march vibe. Like the rest of the album, the track is expectedly repetitive but also includes well placed interludes and strands of melody variations. As one might guess, the names of the songs are often accurate descriptors of their sound. “Sloth” is, well, slothful, as a ten minute tormented dirge bereft of the uptempo passages that litter the rest of the album. Conversely, “Wrath” is a snarling hammer blow of steamrolling blackened doom. If the entire album was played at the pace of the song, it would last ten minutes, rather than seventy five. The exquisitely morose “Lust” is a highpoint of the album, and one of several tracks that evidence excellently interwoven guitar work.
Seventy five minutes of funeral doom is a little much for this reviewer, and the album bogs down slightly in the middle. These songs also contain more sections of spoken word vocals, which are overused at times. This creates occasional moments of melodrama that are too much, on top of the sorrowful tone of the album. Fortunately, there are ample redeeming qualities in these songs as well. Amartia is an album that genre enthusiasts will rate as near perfect, and some will dismiss as indulgently mournful and repetitive. Most of us though, will recognize Amartia for what it truly is—an adroitly skillful display of funeral doom and an album that is quite listenable, if slightly overwrought. Recommended.
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