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The Slow Death – Siege Award winner

The Slow Death
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 27 June 2021, 7:05 AM

THE SLOW DEATH is a Death/Doom metal band from Australia who formed in 2007.  “Siege” is their fourth full length album; they have also released a split album. This is the band’s first release in six years and also their first without vocalist Gregg Williamson, who sadly passed away in 2014.  New vocalist Gamaliel does an admirable job and I have no complaints about what he brings to the band.  The other vocalist Mandy, continues to elevate the band to heights above so many other death doom bands—and her voice apparently only gets better through the years.

Siege” has four tracks and a run time of an hour and three minutes—a very hefty album but not unexpected for fans of the band and, of course, doom metal in general.  Thankfully, is a very smooth hour long ride because there isn’t one second of the album not worth listening to. I must admit that I haven’t been a fan of the band for a super long time—I discovered them last year and only a few months ago did I finally make a purchase of their discography.  But “Siege” continues the trend of what has impressed me so much about them.  Despite their death metal side, the band doesn’t really make ultra heavy or intense music.  Obviously, they ARE heavy but what I mean is they are also very delicate in places and aren’t afraid to let a softer, intimate side envelop their songs.   THE SLOW DEATH, and therefore “Siege” is album of many degrees that expertly balances different shades of the genre with coherent, tight compositions.

Tyranny,” begins with immediate sadness and the feeling of approaching a warm light that continues to be just out of reach.  The clean guitar melodies are beautiful but a layer of cold sorrow falls from them as well.  Around the 1:28 mark, guitars and bass drop thick, melancholic riffs that are slow as a snail.  Stuart (also from Illimitable Dolor, among many others) and Dan certainly know how to ride the line between being mountainous  and still being emotional, without coming on too strong.

Mandy’s wonderful vocals are backed by Yonn’s powerfully focused drumming and the song is as catchy as something like this could ever be.  The lead guitar melodies flow in naturally and bring with them deep death growls that sound right at home for the band.  A dark crest of waves fit for a funeral sound off in the song’s mid portion and I love how well the drumming plays off them.  A keyboard passage with cleans comes next, as the band isn’t content on just doing the same thing over and over for twenty minutes.  Despite the fact that it really is almost twenty minutes long, it breezes by which is a good indication for how well this song is put together.

Famine,” and its beginning moments are so tragic that I could definitely understand if someone cried while the opening seconds pass by.  Mandy’s vocals are intense in a gentle way, seeming to just barely touch against the soften tones.  The drums come in at the right moment with just the right amount of its own gentle force to let the heavier side of the band come in without being overbearing.  At the 3:37 mark, the band suddenly turns the tempo up and rages forward with a decent amount of speed.  I actually enjoyed this part greatly because I feel like more doom bands should be less afraid to speed up every now and then.  After all, doom isn’t always about being slow and the occasional tempo change, if done right, can be exciting. Galloping riffs and melodies pull me in further to the song and this point I have no desire to leave it.  The slow riffs return once more and its a hell of a show, especially with the clever use of melody.  The galloping parts return afterwards before doom greatness hits; Mandy’s vocals crooning over these huge, turtle speed riffs is majestic.

Pestilence,” sounds atmospheric and ambient to me. These tones make the drums and death growls sound even more further down the void, a deep, endless darkness.  It is a very sinister approach and this track is definitely darker than the previous two.  Mandy’s voice reaches out of this well of lost souls, her voice scraping and climbing higher and higher until it sounds angelic.  Gothic doom style riffs and atmospheric drums carry the song down this dismal river but the melody is always present.  The clean vocals shine in the next passage, working off the clean tones wonderfully. Around the 10:11 mark, death growls come out of hiding and this whole section is just a fine example of death doom’s true power.  It also further shows, just as the band always has, how well extreme and clean vocals can work together rather than against.

The final track, “Ascent of the Flames,” is a strong finisher to an already strong album.  The song is immediate in some ways.  The beginning moments are instrumentally already epic and tugging on those heart strings.  After the distortion kicks in, the vocals come around as keys and clean guitar comes to the front…and it makes the vocals even more menacing.  The mid portion is built upon some of the heaviest, darkest riffs on the album and the death growls are stupendous in their gruff attack.  The later half of the song is funeral in nature, not a real shocker, but all these elements swirl in together and it totally enchanted me as it played through my headphones.  By the way this album can, of course, be enjoyed however one sees fit but it really goes great with a nice pair of headphones.

Siege” is an album that you want to be engulfed by, broken down into, and spat out the other side with…just so you can do it all again.  This is a high mark release for doom and I can’t see any reason why a fan would find this disappointing.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Tyranny
2. Famine
3. Pestilence
4. Ascent of the Flames
Stuart Prickett - Guitars, Keyboards
Mandy Andresen – Vocals,  Keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin - Drums
Dan Garcia - Bass
Gamaliel - Vocals
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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