|The new Profetus album is quite a journey into bleakness, well-paced and substantial, with a suffocating heaviness about it.|
|One look at the moody, blue-filtered lakeside album cover, the title and the track listing - all running to 12+ minutes – will suggest to a discerning buyer exactly where this band are heading musically. Adding the information that they are Finnish makes it almost superfluous to mention the genre, but in the interests of completeness: this is archetypal Funeral Doom. |
Or perhaps not completely archetypal. As with the critically well-received 2007 demo disc 'Saturnine', and full-length follow-up 'Coronation Of The Black Sun', the band line-up for '...To Open The Passages In Dusk' is still without a bassist. Whilst that may seem a recipe for immediately weakening the depth of sound, the opposite is actually true. The percussive elements are mainly provided by the combination of heavy bass-mixed drums, cymbals and a deeply-layered use of extensively-sustained keyboards to fill the remaining space. That gives Profetus a quite distinctive and interesting rhythmic texture to work with, something that they make the most of.
Against that background, the twin guitars of Anssi Mäkinen and E. Kuismin provide most of the melody lines through slow, coldly precise riffs that put a stately frame around Anssi's deep, darkly tuneful growling and brief spoken interludes. Weaving through that, S. Kujansuu's keyboards rise from time to time to take control of the musical foreground with a funereal organ sound, before returning to support and reinforce V. Kujansuu's drumming. (The band seem to prefer initials to names, as far as personal information published on the internet is concerned).
Overall, the album is crisply mixed, with a rich and clear sound where all the components are quite distinct and precise. It marks a much more controlled and deliberately measured evolution from earlier works, where an original background in underground Black/Death Metal influenced a certain amount of rawness in the music. This release has traded those rougher, somewhat spontaneous edges for a glacially majestic performance that captures an altogether more forlorn and despairing emotional picture.
The album starts with a spoken introduction to the slow-paced 14-minute 'When Autumn Cries A Fiery Canticle', before surging in volume – if not speed – to an almost painfully-oppressive grandeur. Heavy drumbeats, drawn-out riffs and hoarsely tormented growls with soft spoken interludes set the stage for this and the following 12 minutes of 'The Watchers Dusk'. The latter is a more chilling experience, rising from a haunting keyboard sustain to softer, slower riffs and vocals before finally dissolving in waves of keyboard-backed guitar held and attenuated to the point of knifing feedback.
That then makes way for the magnificent 'The Shoreless' - at 17 minutes duration, the longest of the tracks. In this, the guitars set a melancholy, hypnotic opening refrain and common theme underpinned by more prominent keyboard backing. Slow, harsh growls set a grim mood and, for contrast, a couple of faster-paced sections give drums and keyboards a chance to stamp their mark on the song's direction. To close, there is the cold heartbreak of 'Burn, Lanterns Of Eve', a slow and endlessly crushing 14-minute piece that includes an effective and emotive clean vocal passage before the eventual fade.
'...To Open The Passages In Dusk' is quite a journey into bleakness, well-paced and substantial, with a suffocating heaviness about it. Comparisons could be made with the usual suspects in the genre (including those the band themselves cite as influences: Thergothon and Skepticism, for example, but the spoken pieces and the use of keyboards also draw in something of the melodic aspects of the like of Longing For Dawn) but this is well-crafted and individual enough to stand alone on merit. The unusual musical line-up is definitely to be applauded as a strength, in this instance. Despite a slight reservation about the band name – which, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, is a little off-putting – this is a recommended album and, indeed, one I am about to spend my own money on purchasing.
1. When Autumn Cries A Fiery Canticle
2. The Watchers Dusk
3. The Shoreless
4. Burn, Lanterns Of Eve
Duration : Approx. 58 minutes
Visit the Profetus bandpage.