A Dark Burial
posted on 8/2009 By:
Hailing from the black metal hotbed of Bergen, Norway, Syrach’s thick, heavy doom/death must have stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the thin, raspy racket of black metal when the band’s debut was released in 1996. Despite being at the right place with the wrong style, the band stuck it out through numerous line-up shifts to finally release a sophomore effort in 2007, and have now, in comparatively short order, issued a follow-up entitled, A Dark Burial. With a sound both massive and expansive, A Dark Burial is a doom/death tour de force that proves perseverance pays off.
Syrach’s epic length tracks, relaxed pacing and dark atmosphere strongly suggest doom metal, but the band’s choppy riff structures and vocalist, Ripper’s fearsome growls are clearly based in death metal. The band’s arrangements are spare, and the songs flow quite logically. The riffs and melodies develop in a natural, unhurried manner, allowing the listener to revel in the stately glory of each composition.
Despite containing only six songs, all of which adhere to the basic framework of slow and heavy, Syrach manages to make A Dark Burial quite a diverse listen. The songs, even the shorter ones, all contain multiple sections, each with a different feel or mood. Running the gamut from oppressive doom to pummeling death metal to sublime melody, each track is, on its own, a complete musical experience. The album is rife with so many excellent and memorable, moments that I quail at the thought of describing them all. The thundering, lead-footed gallop of that opens “Curse the Souls”, The ominous Black Sabbath-like three chord riff of the title track, and the dazzlingly hypnotic outro to “A Mourner’s Kiss” provide a mere tip of the iceberg of the albums highlights.
The band operates well as a unit, creating a tight and cohesive sound that does not neglect the groove. Individual performances are solid and supportive rather than flashy, with guitarist Rolv-Erik "8-Ball" Berge being the lone show-off. In addition to masterful rhythm work, Berge performs some impassioned leads on the album; most notably the mournful wailing on “In Darkness I Sigh” and the extended wah and whammy pedal infused shredding throughout the closing instrumental, “Ouroboros”.
Whether A Dark Burial will stand the test of time, I can only speculate, but my initial listens leave me hard pressed to ferret out any major flaws. Doom hardliners may find the album leans too heavily toward death metal and death metal purists may find things move a little too slowly, but for those who appreciate both genres, A Dark Burial is a treasure trove of magnificent metal. A work of grim power and stark beauty, this album is worth your money.
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