Longing For Dawn
Between Elation And Despair
posted on 4/2009 By:
The third album from Canadian misery merchants Longing for Dawn is an engrossing brand of deathly funeral doom with a healthy dose of ambient ingredients. It helps, of course that guitarist Frederic Arbour is also the mind behind ambient projects Instrincts and Visions, and his adept infusion of electronic elements into Longing for Dawn brings a welcome and intriguing take on a genre that can sometimes become monotonous. These songs are typically bracketed with periods of relatively sparse ambience, but the band also continues to incorporate it in various degrees throughout the songs as well. This is a pretty cool incorporation, as the swirling atmosphere plays nicely off of the oppressive elephantine weightiness of the band’s funeral doom.
Between Elation and Despair consists of a mere four tracks, two of which weigh in at a hulking fifteen minutes, and the ‘short’ ones run about ten. So what you have here are loooong excursions of slow and punishing funeral doom. That said, the material is fairly melodic, with basic but evocative riffs draping melody over the bleak, crushing structures. The vocals are typically a standard death/doom pained roar, but also occasionally vary into spoken lines during quieter moments. Opener "Our Symbolic Burial" opens with a lengthy ambient buildup before layering plodding heaviness and clean vocals, and for a couple of minutes, one is reminded of what Jesu might sound like as a doom band. But then Longing for Dawn shift into full on death/doom mode, with Stefan Laroche's tortured roar manhandling the song into a much more oppressive territory. Interestingly, the radiating ambience still shifts underneath the band, fully filling out the ample empty spaces of the instrumentation and lending an unbalanced and surreal quality to the band’s gloomy, funereal aesthetics, as the electronic elements circle lazily around the live instrumentation."A Sunrise at Your Feet" probably has the most depressive tone, as hope is eclipsed by an impenetrable suffocating somberness fueled by Arbour’s minimal plaintive guitar melodies and Francois Fortin's entrancing drumming, each crashing cymbal/bass raising anticipation for the next well-spaced cathartic snap of the snare. Although as the hopelessness factor goes, "Reflective" is right up there as well, as its downcast sparse guitar melodies color a somber traipse through bleak landscapes.
Sometimes albums like these can wear you down with their smothering punishment and unwavering approach. But this album actually reverses that pattern, drawing the listener deeper as it wears on. Several times I restarted Between Elation and Despair immediately after it ended, which is uncommon for an album so exhausting. An easy recommendation, even if you may have to search a bit to find a copy.
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