Not a Gleam of Hope
posted on 4/2007 By:
Anyone familiar with the musical traits that characterize the funeral doom genre should know exactly what to expect from Comatose Vigil’s debut full-length Not A Gleam Of Hope. And for those who aren’t familiar with this style but are curious to hear what it's about, this album would be a great place to start, in that it exemplifies pretty much everything that defines funeral doom. Slower-than-slow pacing, lengthy and repetitive songs, growled vocals, atmospheric use of keyboards and effects, and an emphasis on feelings of despair and emptiness are the order of the day for Not A Gleam Of Hope, and while Comatose Vigil don’t accomplish anything very innovative or groundbreaking here, they play their music of choice with such earnest sincerity and steadfast intent that its hard not to sit up, take notice, and applaud appreciatively.
When making music this slow and repetitive there is always that fine line between “hypnotizing atmosphere” and “boring and predictable”, and I admit initial listens did have me drifting in and out of focus somewhat. But even on the first couple of tries there were still moments on Not A Gleam Of Hope that intrigued me enough to want to give the album the attention it deserved, and sure enough further listens revealed an impressive degree of skill in composition and atmosphere from these melancholy Russians. While the majority of the material here is suitably depressing and downbeat, I was actually most moved by the more melodic-sounding passages such as those found throughout “Cataracts” and “Mirrors Of Despair,” that see Comatose Vigil adding noticeable, if subtle, elements of sorrowful beauty that sound strangely uplifting. Rather than seeming out of place, these segments contrast with the mood of the rest of the album to effectively convey feelings of inner turmoil and emotional distress that suit the nature of the music perfectly.
I must commend Keyboard Depressant for a stellar performance throughout the album; his eerie keyboard melodies are the key ingredient of Not A Gleam Of Hope, and hearing keys that tastefully enhance the music at hand without sounding cheesy or overbearing is a trait I’d like to see more of in metal these days. And don’t believe that these guys are afraid to sound downright scary amidst all the gloom; listen to the disturbing break of noise and disjointed opera sampling in the middle of instrumental closer “Galleries Of Coma”, or when vocalist Vragomer ends opening song “Suicide Grotesque” with a scream that chills the bones wonderfully. This actually brings me to my one real complaint with this album, and it's that the vocals are a little too far up in the mix and sound separate from the rest of the band. In music like this I generally find the vocals more effective when they are less distinct and more in the background, but this is more a matter of personal preference. I’m sure plenty of you out there will like the vox just the way they are.
Comatose Vigil certainly knew exactly what they wanted to accomplish with this release, and they have achieved that with a funeral doom album that fans of the genre can really sink their teeth into. I can’t really say that anything here hasn’t been done before or that the material here will sway metalheads with a dislike for this style. This goes most recommended to those who know and love doom as well as those anxious to hear it, and instead of looking for innovation or experimentation, I suggest that interested listeners hear this album for what it is: a testament to everything that makes funeral doom cool when it's done well. For those of you who like your metal bleak, depressing, and (most importantly) SLOOOOOOOOW, you will find plenty to enjoy in Not A Gleam Of Hope. Check it out.
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