The 11th Hour
Burden Of Grief
posted on 11/2009 By:
Doom, death, and the act of dying; Burden Of Grief is all these things. The carefully crafted brainchild of Hail Of Bullets/Gorefest instrumental octopus Ed Warby, and featuring Roger “Rogga” Johansson (Demiurg/Ribspreader/Bone Gnawer) adding his fantastically intense growls, The 11th Hour has produced a doom album that pretty much fits the style like a depressing straightjacket.
Battling with cancer is an issue almost all of us can connect with on some varying personal levels, and events start out uncomfortable from the very beginning as “One Last Smoke” heaves forth to open things on an immediately disconcerting, gasping note. Clocking in at just over 52 minutes, this 6-track catharsis really flies by considering the still-lengthy running time. Much like Napalm Records labelmates, Isole, The 11th Hour take a classically-influenced Candlemass sound and update it awash in big riffs, sorrowful melodies, and heartbroken prose, while still administering a fairly skull-splitting death metal crunch when they feel it’s necessary. This is all very admirable, and very appealing more often than not, but as each of these slow, meticulous songs pass through the air, there develops a sensation of waiting for a climax to arrive that never does.
Two issues I have with this disc lie with the vocals, and the sameness of the entire record. While from start to finish everything is competently solid, Warby’s clean vocals are a combination of painfully timid melody, and very flat, matte notes which subtract from some of the more emotionally powerful sections of the songs. When Johansson comes in with his bellowing roars, the music takes on an entirely new, aggressive but graceful new vision of suffering and loss. If the intention with the clean vox was to interpret the weakening of the person afflicted with the disease, or the sorrow of the individual who’s witnessing this decline, I would have expected something with a little more feeling, which casts a dim light upon a dent in Warby’s formidable musical armor.
While the flow of Burden Of Grief is smooth for the most part, there are times when monotony rears its ugly head, like with the closing two minutes or so of “In The Silent Grave”, and there were also a few times when parts of various songs sounded a lot like earlier passages. While reenacting musical stanzas throughout the course of one disc isn’t always bad, it comes across as redundant here.
On a good note (and honestly, there are many), this is an extremely classy sounding effort as a whole, the instrumentation is superbly arranged the majority of the time, and “Weep For Me” absolutely crushes with stiff riffs running under Johansson’s extended deathly growls, which instantly grabbed my attention. With doom making such a strong mark on 2009, Burden Of Grief lands right into the middle of the pack, not falling behind, but taking no great steps towards taking the lead anytime soon. Despite my criticisms, “Longing For Oblivion” makes it all worthwhile by showing itself to be the strongest, most visceral song on the album with its larger-than-life, grand entrance, and witheringly sad, brief orchestral ending passage.
I’d have to say this is a disc worth having if you enjoy the majority of the Napalm roster, but when surrounded by doom masterpieces by YOB, While Heaven Wept, Wino, and Isole, it’s possible the promising The 11th Hour might become just another face in the crowd this year. Good, highly respectable, but not a standout.
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