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Skepticism – Companion Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 20 July 2021, 6:15 AM

SKEPTICISM is a legendary doom metal band from Finland.  They formed in 1991 and helped pioneer funeral doom with their 1995 full length debut "Stormcrowfleet." "Companion" is their six full length album and their first one in six years.  They have also released two demos and three EPs. They aren't as prolific as some other bands but every time they release an album it is noteworthy and another piece of their well earned legacy. Although the music within the six track, forty-eight minute run time of "Companion," contains well integrated elements of funeral doom, this album doesn't always play by the genres tropes. I have always found the band to be more melodic than other funeral doom bands and "Companion," is no exception to that.

Their song writing continues to be head and shoulders above many of their peers. "Companion" is an album that is much more focused on creating their musical landscape with implacable song writing instead of doom and gloom that is there just to be there. The fruits of SKEPTICISM's labor is "Companion" having much replay value and some truly gorgeous, stunning moments. "Calla" may be the shortest track on the album but it sets the tone right with funeral keys that sound as bombastic as they do somber. The growls are loud and clear, bringing intensity that intertwines with the melodic doom that pushes greatness out thru the pours of the song. The song has a fresh, unique feel to it…this may seem odd to say about a doom song but it sounds kind of jaunty. I can envision sailors singing on their boats if…sailors did death growls.

But the album overall has this feeling of a want…no, a NEED to be different and have all these sprawling dimensions. "Intertwined" is a fine example of what I mean—it eschews build up for immediacy and within seconds the song is grandiose. Afterwards, it slows down before stretching into an atmospheric run with heavy guitars, bass and keys that swirl together for a massive wall of sound. About halfway a clean keyboard part and drums give a short but sweet performance before the song gets heavier and the power of doom flattens everything

"The March Of The Four" is my favorite song on the album. It perfectly balances funeral doom with a modern, melodic sound that brings out the best of both styles. Funeral tones and drums start the track off slow and depressing. The vocals are low and tortured. There is a feeling of inescapable destiny, a finality, to the song as it, well, marches ever forward with inevitable blackness at the end. The growls rise and fall with the keys and I loved how the song subtlety builds tension especially with the drums.

"Passage" is very much a sinister track—the guitar's tone, vocals even the drum patterns…it is all just so evil and foreboding.  The aggressive nature of the song is a welcome change of pace for the album. Jamming this song with a nice pair of headphones made the song hit right through me as I took on the burden of carrying these scary emotions and uneasy feelings the song brings out. "The Inevitable" is a great song because it nails down this melancholic side that a lot of bands such as INSOMNIUM and BLACK THERAPY have but SKEPTICISM put their unmistakable sound on it and it just takes the whole idea to new heights. The clean intro sets up the song perfectly and the gentle keys fit the mood. The music is slow and not overly heavy but still thick and full within the atmosphere.

The final track "The Swan and the Raven" has excellent use of the keys, which provide much of the musical landscape. The guitars blend with them for a smooth flow—and I have to mention the drums which have their own world building while providing a much needed foundation All in all, "Companion" is worth the six year wait and another massive step in SKEPTICISM'S already stellar discography.  The legends have returned to show us all its all done…and successfully challenge themselves in the process.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Calla
2. The Intertwined
3. The March of the Four
4. Passage
5. The Inevitable
6. The Swan and the Raven
Lasse Pelkonen - Drums
Jani Kekarainen - Guitars
Eero Pöyry - Keyboards
Matti Tilaeus – Vocals
Record Label: Svart Records


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