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Drown - Unsleep Award winner

Drown
Unsleep
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 12 August 2019, 3:48 AM

DROWN is a Doom/Death Metal band from Portland, Oregon.  They were formed in 2012, as SLOW and released a full length and one EP.  That debut full length was called “Unsleep,” which has been remastered and rebranded under the DROWN moniker, which SLOW changed their name to in 2018. I never heard the original under the SLOW name so I have nothing to compare it to, but this edition’s production is truly immense.  It is loud (not overly) and everything can be heard but it still has that raw, cavernous feel to it.  Imagine dropping a rock down a dark hole…and the rock can be seen the entire way down to the depths; that is the best way I can describe how this album sounds.  “Unsleep,” isn’t an album that you can put in and enjoy over a quick trip to the supermarket—these songs are long with depth that can’t be discovered within just a few minutes of your time.  For those with time and patience (if you are a fan of this type of Doom then surely you possess that skill already) a darkened world rich with discovery awaits you.

Ominous bass tones open up these depths on “Drowned I: Stem,” setting up a descent into the rabbit hole.  Haunting guitar lends an unsettling atmosphere on the track and those extremely deep Death growls take it to another dimension, one with pain of loss and hope.   By the time the song is halfway over, it is hard to believe how all encompassing it all is…but then it goes even deeper, falling under the waves to the very bottom of whatever lies in the deepest of trenches.

The second part, “Drowend II: Unsleep,” sounds very alien in the beginning.  Despite the unknown presence, the song slowly takes on form and function.  It doesn’t so much as completely change course as it just picks up scraps of bone and other matter along the way, building itself up over time.  At the 5:55 mark, the song gets so inescapable with its heaviness that it is almost a surreal experience, especially with headphones on.  Honestly, I reviewed this during the day, but I definitely think I had done so at night, I would be a bit unnerved.

The album presents itself as one big movement but if it had a centerpiece it would be “Drowned III: Kuril Kamchatka,” and the eleven-and-a-half-minute dark ride that it reveals itself to be.  Ice cold melodies litter the landscape in the track’s burgeoning moments.  These dim lights stay with the track throughout, heightening the watery grave to a monolith of death and defeat—it is a journey to the heart of darkness itself.  With the theme/story of the album having to with fallen into watery depths unable to escape, I would say this track represents the moment when one realizes that life is now lost to a truly inescapable black abyss from which that now only will the body be destroyed but total annihilation of everything was once human, all remnants crushed by the weight of the crushing pressure..

Obviously with an album like this, each song is connected but, even still, I really felt like the last two tracks, “Drowned IV: Kermadec” and “Drowned V: Mariana,” were made for each other and their flow is particularly special.   The fourth part is accepting what is happening, giving into the unfathomable and the fifth part is, quite simply, the complete blackness of the end.  Together, the two tracks display an uncanny and harrowing penchant for adapting music to such an apocalyptic journey to the fathoms.  Markov Saroka has crafted the score to oblivion and the Funeral Doom subgenre is all the darker, and better, for it.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Drowned I: Stem
2. Drowned II: Unsleep
3. Drowned III: Kuril Kamchatka
4. Drowned IV: Keremadec
5. Drowned V: Mariana
Lineup:
Markov Soroka – Everything
Record Label: Lupus Lounge
     


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