Release DetailsLABEL Harvester Records
RELEASED ON 10/7/2007
The Living Fields
posted on 10/2007 By:
If placed in a Hostel 2, genital removing situation and forced to name two of the best unsigned bands no one has ever heard of, I’d easily go with The Pax Cecilia and The Living Fields. No questions asked.
How both the above bands remain unsigned and largely unheard just simply mesmerizes me, especially considering both bands' 2007 offerings. My thoughts on The Pax Cecilia’s can be read elsewhere on this site as can my review of the self released demo from Chicago’s The Living Fields, formed by respected webzine owner, Jason Muxlow (Deadtide.com).
Folks, there’s been some high profile quality doom released this year, but I doubt any of it reaches this level of ambitious, genre trait ignoring brilliance of this self released (Harvester Records is also owned by Muxlow) record that delivers some of the most impressive, innovative and progressive doom metal I’ve heard in many, many years.
Melding influences such as November’s Doom, Morgion, My Dying Bride and the rending harmonies of the Finnish scene and a host of other, non traditional injections, The Living Fields pretty much turn doom metal on its head. With an environmental lyrical lean, deep bellows and string ensemble returning from their The Miseries Never Cease EP, some new additions further develop the already progressive take on doom metal. First off and most striking, vocalist Jonathan Higgs has now fully developed his high pitched Cam Pipes meets Jamie Hooper (3 Inches of Blood) or Ishahn like croon, that while initially offsetting, actually works really well, especially when used in conjunction with his deep growls. Second, the songwriting of Muxlow is just off the charts. Now fully comfortable in their string ensemble based doom, the songs are rich, deeply varied and confident, though less folky/pagan than the demo.
Look no further than opening duo of truly stunning tracks; the epic, ten minute “What is Left Behind”- a very Finnish based doom track of somber strings, melancholic riffs, clean interludes and dramatic bursts of string based urgency. Then there is the simply amazing “Burial at Sky”, arguably one of the best songs of 2007 with its slow, evocative start and eventual 3 Inches of Blood peak and amazing jig in the chorus, that’s just catchy as shit, and results in a huge grin and many rewinds.
Admittedly, following up two such strong tracks is a tall order, and the largely instrumental “The Great Majority” fails a bit with its samples and lulling drone, but the sudden burst of “Monument” and its moody, layered prose and another standout, the multi hued, introspective “Feast of the Earth” (though I wish it were a bit longer) make dramatic amends. “The Soil Giveth” shows the band at their most aggressive, and while it doesn’t quite work, shows the band is willing to change it up. However, another ten minute track, closer “The Overview Effect”, ends the album in varied style with the same aplomb as the opener, though with a more ambitious sense of multi faceted influnces (rock, black, doom, folk, thrash) vying for your attention.
It’s pretty sad that a band and album of this quality has to release its own material while labels like Century Media, Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast are releasing contrived, rehashed crap and recycled all star projects. Do a favor for great independent musicians and yourself and go download this album and if you like it, buy it and show some respect for a band that truly deserves it.
Are you reading this, folks at THE END RECORDS?????????
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