Vallis Ex Umbra De Mortuus
posted on 3/2008 By:
Rigor Sardonicus is a funeral doom band from Long Island, NY. Vallis Ex Umbra De Mortuus is their 4th official full length and they really don't like treble. The style here is similar to most funeral doom bands heard before like Evoken or Morgion but this band has a very Mortician slant to what they do. I explain...
First of all the drums are courtesy of a drum machine. The guitars sound like they're being played through a home stereo with the bass turned all the way up and the vocals are basically Will Rahmer or Craig Pillard singing through an octave effect. There's a level of competency to what they do here so I can't say this outright sucks. In fact, I've given bands that I like less better scores than this. My issue is that this combination of sounds does nothing for me. Ironically it's in a genre of music that is, to me, a complete triumph.
The drum machine used here is very much a drum machine. I like drum machines in certain contexts. I like how Al Jourgenson uses his drum loops. I like how Mortician uses them to achieve that otherworldly speed. I like how Nortt and Godflesh swirl the drum sounds into the music itself making it one with everything. What I don't like is when drum machines supplement a real drummer. Most black metal bands who use the drum machine in this way bum me out (Azrael) and in the case of Rigor Sardonicus, it falls hopelessly flat.
The guitars are my other beef. The riffs are great, super heavy and doomy. They're fuzzed out, tuned down and some of them are especially memorable. But the Mortician guitar tone's gotta go. It's too crisp to be "demo" sounding and it lacks the tubular beef that this music needs, especially with as good as these riffs are.
One thing I could live with, if the things mentioned were fixed, are the vocals. I'm not against vocal effects in any way. I often find myself defending Massacre's Inhuman Condition EP as a similar effect was used. But here, it's not used poorly or in bad taste but it really doesn't do anything to make the vocals sound more menacing. I would trade the pitch shift/octave thing for a shit ton of reverb and maybe an echo, keeping the centerpoint of this music, atmosphere, in mind.
So, here's what I think of Rigor Sardonicus at the end of it all. I don't like it but I will someday if the following happens. Get a live drummer. They need a skin pounding doom drummer with a fat 24" kick drum. Second, get a second job and save up for some Mesa Boogie or some Orange amps. I know they're not cheap, but if you wanna play ball in the park, you gotta buy a car to get there.
All of that aside, some of you may actually like this. There's a lo-fi likability here, if that's your thing. I kinda feel bad with the low score because the music here is cool and there are some great memorable riffs. However, in my own humble opinion, the sound needs more elbow grease and thought, a lot actually.
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