|It has been five long years of waiting since Skepticism’s last opus, the experimental 'Farmakon'. Was the wait worth it? You bet it was!|
'The Arrival' introduces the return of the Finnish masters of ice-cold doomy ambience in a triumphant manner. The track has all elements we have grown to love about this band: the chilling, commanding use of pipe organs, distorted guitar with folky overtones and a deep grunt full of passion. There is also a very beautiful twin guitar harmony at the end of the track that fits wonderfully with the general mood of this majestic opener.
'March October' and 'Antimony' are two of my favourite tracks on this album, perfectly mixing vintage Skepticism with new subtleties: there is an almost ritual, pitch black opening riff in the first, which is set in contrast to the hopeful lyrics about the coming of spring; there is also the atonal organ intro on the later, followed by a mesmerizing, elaborate melody on the same organ. The tracks bring to mind, more than once, memories of the band’s masterpiece 'Stormcrowfleet', as they have a similarly natural, easy flowing vibe and timeless character.
The quality of the tracks remains high, and the band offer us three more masterpieces in the second part of the album. 'The Curtain' and 'Oars in the Dusk' have more up-tempo parts than what we have been used to from Skepticism, with very tasteful synth strings and a perhaps more ‘epic’ atmosphere. 'Pendulum' offers a more ambient/darkwave sound reminiscent of the synth-heavy 'The Gallant Crow' from the band’s monumental debut album.
There are definitely some new elements that have made their appearance on this album. The most striking is the powerful, "metal" production that gives ’Alloy’ a very earthly, solid feel, as opposed to the vague, weird sound of its predecessor. Especially the typically pounding drums benefit from this approach.
It is perhaps a bit of a strong statement about a band that has such a strong back catalogue, but I consider 'Alloy' among their best work, perhaps only second to 'Stormcrowfleet'. The album is blessed with the band's best ever production compared to previous output and the quality of the tracks is consistently high throughout. The strong riffing and solid sound complete the job and make this one of the highlights of the year in the Doom Metal genre.
1. The Arrival
2. March October
4. The Curtain
6. Oars in The Dusk
Duration : Approx. 47 minutes.
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