|If you have always longed for a straightforward Thergothon tribute band regardless of quality, Cosmic Despair might make you happy.|
|The name Cosmic Despair makes you expect great things, doesn’t it? It suggests that you’re in for a trip through utterly cold soundscapes, through an atmosphere of forlornness amidst an infinite, non-caring cosmos. It makes you think of Lovecraftian dread lurking in the lightless chasms between the galaxies, of formless horrors inhabiting the spheres beyond human cognition. Alternatively, it might make you expect emotions of hopelessness that transcend the physical and superficial experience of average human beings, a despair so deeply rooted and all-encompassing that no words would suffice to describe it and no mind could have the strength to weather it. Holding Celebration of the Wake in your hands, the logo of Marche Funebre productions is likely to fuel your expectations even more – rather prestigious acts of the Funeral Doom underground have released albums on this label, most notably The Ethereal and Until Death Overtakes Me, acts which are renowned for creating this kind of atmosphere to a certain extent. The next thing that strikes the eye is that the band pays tribute to Thergothon, the epitome of Lovecraftian Doom and, well, cosmic despair.
While reading the above paragraph, you might have had a growing suspicion that this black bubble was going to burst at some point. Well, here we go: The band, which is a collaboration of three people from different countries, chose to cover “The Unknown Kadath in the Cold Waste”, and this song alone seems to have served as a blueprint for their sound. The promo sheet describes the music as “Romantic Funeral Doom”; it is beyond me where exactly the romantic part is supposed to be found, maybe they thought the word was synonymous with “melodic” or “mellow”. The entire album sounds like a tribute to the softer and more atmospheric moments on Stream from the Heavens: Apart from a few occasions of nice lead guitar lines, synths figure prominently as the main melodic instrument, reducing the guitars to basic chords most of the time. The production is thin and without any punch or heaviness. Cosmic Despair even try to imitate the inhumanly low, belch-like vocal style of the Finnish cult act, but it sounds very forced and unnatural.
All of this would not be enough reason to dismiss the album, for it might have been nice to hear a new band conjure the unique feel of this milestone of Doom Metal despite the apparent lack of originality. The crux of the matter is that Celebration of the Wake does not get anywhere near the depth and complexity of Thergothon, nor does it manage to create the kind of atmosphere suggested by the name. The album holds no surprises for a listener – after the first two tracks everybody will know what to expect, and the band keep serving more of the same without ever coming up with anything relevant. You can sense their love for the genre and their wish to contribute to it, but the lack of ideas and sufficient songwriting talent prevents them from achieving that goal. There is a certain level of professionalism to the release despite the weak production, for everything is tight, well-timed and mixed in a balanced way, which would help bringing out the potential in the compositions if there was any. Unfortunately, in this case it only emphasises the shortcomings even more.
There are two things I found interesting about this album: The bass lines are untypically prominent and distinctive for Funeral Doom standards, which could serve as a first basis for a more individual sound. Then, the song “Poseidon” features lyrics in Norwegian which are a kind of prayer to the great God of the Sea from Greek mythology, asking Him to bury the speaker and his ship deep beneath the waves of the ocean. A rather original attempt at committing suicide without actually carrying out the deed oneself, I must say, and hence not quite as stereotypical as everything else on this album… If only one could sense the despair in the music, too – be it cosmic or not. My suggestion to the band would be to either put far more effort into songwriting and work on a more individual approach, or to change style altogether, rename to This Empty Cosmos, focus a bit more on the naval theme and write an album called Azure Seacode (for instance).
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1. Nox Initium
2. Chains of Frost
3. Infinite Halls
4. Angel of Desolation
7. Celebration of the Wake
9. The Unknown Kadath in the Cold Waste (Thergothon cover)
Duration : Approx. 43 minutes
Visit the Cosmic Despair bandpage.