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The Drowning - Senescent Signs

The Drowning
Senescent Signs
by Lauren Fonto at 16 January 2017, 4:14 PM

Now onto their fourth album, THE DROWNING are purveyors of a more vigorous approach to Doom Metal. While their brand of Doom veers away from the gothic side of things towards more of a Death Metal approach, the somber melodies and gloomy atmosphere remains.

“Senescent Signs” is a beast of an album, since it clocks in at an hour and six minutes. Not exactly an album for those wanting to get a quick shot of melancholy. In the hands of a lesser band, such a length could have slipped into ponderous territory, but THE DROWING avoid this pitfall through powerful songs which can stand up to the competition. While the Death / Doom style is arguably hard to do in a distinctive way, but the band’s commitment to honing their skills in this style makes their songs stand out.

Guitarists Jason Hodges and Mike Hitchen show an ability to create the strong riffs necessary to drive the songs forward. Their work on “Betrayed by God” and “House of the Tragic Poet” were highlights for me. The former sees clean guitar riffs playing off heavy riffs to create an emotionally gripping passage, while the latter has some beautifully-done alt-picking going on. “Betrayed by God” also takes an interesting turn into the progressive side of things, with wistful counter-melodies floating in and out and weaving around each other. The dynamic feel of the album got somewhat lost towards the end of the album (around track seven), but some interesting tempo changes prevented things from getting tedious to listen to. For example, the lovely male/female operatic duet on “Dawn of Sorrow” perked up the song just when I was starting to feel that the track was dragging on.

The delicate piano parts and ethereal female vocals make an interesting contrast with the strident guttural vocals of Matt Small, a recent addition to the band. His thunderous vocals combine powerfully with the super heavy Doom parts to create a house-shaking intensity. And of course, a doom band can’t shake a place to its foundations without a solid rhythm section as their foundation (excuse the pun), and the combo of James Easterbrook (bass) and Steve Hart (drums) delivers throughout the album.

These guys may not have broken the mold with their sound, but they have a spark in them that creates something distinctive. “Senescent Signs” is an album worth spending time on.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Dolor Saeculi
2. Broken Before the Throne
3. Betrayed by God
4. Never Rest
5. At One with the Dead
6. House of the Tragic Poet
7. Dawn of Sorrow
8. When Shadow Falls
9. The Lament of Faustus
James Easterbrook – Bass
Steve Hart – Drums
Jason Hodges – Guitars
Mike Hitchen – Guitars
Matt Small – Vocals
Record Label: Casket Music


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