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Slough Of Despair – Catacombs of Terror Award winner

Slough Of Despair
Catacombs of Terror
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 21 February 2021, 7:38 AM

SLOUGH OF DESPAIR is a death/doom band from Greece who formed in 2108. “Catacombs of Terror,” is their debut full length but they also released a demo in 2020.  This album actually came out in digital format last year but is being re-released by Chaos Record this year.  That’s good because I missed this beast of an album last year.

INCANTATION and ASPHYX comparisons are inevitable but these guys do have their own sound.  Whereas those bands weave doom in between boughs of speed, SLOUGH OF DESPAIR  definitely take a slower pace but their sound is just as punishing.  What makes them stand out is their willingness to display a more melancholic side.  This isn’t melodic death and the melody isn’t presented in that way.  Instead, this other side of the band’s nature is just as cold, dark, and gloomy as their more heavier aspects.  In essence, their melodic tendencies actually make them heavier and more extreme.  It also covers their sound in deep horror vibes—although not overly so to the point of being comical, this album has a dangerous and sinister feel to it.  There is a high sense of nervous exploration and trepidation while listening to these songs—what is around the next corner?

I also like how they aren’t heavy and dark for the sake of it.  “Catacombs of Terror,” displays real levels of musicianship and there are riffs for days to be found with the album’s seven track, 41 minute run time.  Despite the claustrophobic nature of their music, the album sounds very open and expansive for the genre. Their long game is crafted well, the songs build up with just the right amount of tension and rising terror.  This is exemplified in the first track with ethereal keys hanging like fog as the guitars come in behind it.  The detached melodies make their present known as the rhythm and bass fill up the sound with crunchy doom.

Then that death scream pierces the void and the song settles into it path.  VELNIAS is an amazing vocalist and goes a long way in giving the songs their atmosphere.  Check out the riffs at 3:30—punishing, slow yet groovy and pulverizing. “Humanity’s Crucifixion,” begins like some ancient rite of the night or perhaps the torture of someone as the hungry crowd gathers around like vultures.  The bass guitar fills this scene with sweltering miasma and casts such a dark cloud. I would never call music like this “smooth” per say but the vocals do glide over the riffs with apparent ease, showcasing how in tune with each other this young band truly is.  The tempo is increased for a display of rumbling riffs that develop a hypnotic tone of sorts that just grabs the ears and doesn’t let go. The song’s middle portion is mind bending in its vicious concoction of guitar, bass and drums.  The song progresses naturally from this point forward, constantly renewing itself with fresh energy.

That’s how the album is as a whole, too.  It is just a well put together collection of songs—there isn’t a dull moment nor is there a wasted one. “Cursed Fate,” eschews any build up and immediately drops the two ton hammer.  Thunder isn’t as loud as the double bass that lifts the entire song up to another degree. Some of the best riffs are on this song—they are just never ending, perpetually moving forward like a tidal weave bearing down upon the shore.  These are waters you can definitely drown in, the muddy melodies taking you down to the undertow.  The drums kick it up a notch after the song’s halfway point, accenting each riff and vocal line to lead the song into it’s last two minutes.  A short but sweet guitar solo is born out of the chaos and the band just rocks it to the song’s end like doom only can.

A title track should always be special and this album certainly takes that to heart.  The vocals here are especially caustic and vicious, gravel scraping up from the gut and vomiting forth.  The bass manages to be melodic and hard at the same time to stand out on its own while also laying down a strong rhythm. This is perhaps the darkest song on the album but that is matched by its intensity.  The behemoth guitars toward the end finish the album with a bang.

All in all, “Catacombs Of Terror,” is an exciting release for the death/doom genre and shows a lot of promise in this new comer to the scene. These guys will become unstoppable if they can keep this up.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Burial of Sanity
2. Disease of Human Minds
3. Humanitys Crucifixion
4. Shattered Reality
5. Cursed Fate
6. Catacombs of Terror
7. Outro
Jim – Bass, Drums
Panos - Guitars
Velnias - Vocals
Record Label: Chaos Records


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