Monday, June 14, 2010

Ophis - Withered Shades

Another new arrival from the heavy leaden hearts over at Solitude Productions, this sophomore full-length release by highly praised German Doom band Ophis is a more classic doom metal sounding album than The Howling Void and other label mates, although no less gloom filled or heavy. This is definitely one of my favorite new Doom metal scores.

The length of the tracks are yet again the roughly fifteen minutes of pure and unbridled abysmal gloom and lead-like chords, but where others go more into this trance-like sloth fog of emotional and symphonic elements, Ophis likes to throw in some great riffs and melody with speed in places to add a bit more metal throttle and momentum to this beast. Honestly, most of this release is a return to a fathomless and abysmal Doom metal sound that will equally appeal to fans of: Candlemass/Solitude Aeturnus/ Solstice/Mael Mordha/Centurians Ghost; as it will to the funeral doom crowd, for it still predominantly remains as slow as a glacier gliding across the bottom of the ocean, but the dreamy feel is gone in favor of massive riffs heavier than the gravitational pull of a nearly dead star about to implode into a black hole. The vocal style is very much the hollow and foggy growl heard from bands like Esoteric, Skepticism and Ahab, sounding as if they are a calling from some inhuman beast or mythological creature entrenched miles beneath the Earth.

Regardless of how you like your doom or metal, Ophis will satisfy the craving for absolute despair and the haunting of one’s soul, as you ache with eternal pains and crawl across your existence toward the end. This just came out and has already been on constant rotation with me, I can’t seem to escape its pull as it’s equally hypnotic as it is heavy. You’d be doing yourself a major disservice to not check into this release. It’s diverse, heavy, melodic, and will appeal to fans of anything just mentioned. “Withered Shades” trades in the funereal and isolationist feel for a more narrative feel of something Lovecraftian or even Tolkien, like a giant basilisk or serpentine creature deep within the bowels of the Earth doomed to lurking and slithering along for all eternity in search of an escape.

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