|In order to appreciate the new album by the Yorkshire quartet The Prophecy, you will need one thing: patience. And you will need it regardless of whether you are familiar with the band’s previous efforts or not. You should also be in an emotionally receptive state of mind without anything (or anyone, for that matter) distracting you. Forget about playing the CD while washing the dishes, eating supper or driving to work. Forget about pressing the play button when in the need for some crushing (Doom) Metal to vent your frustration or depression. Salvation calls for your full attention, and even that will not be enough if you don’t have the necessary patience. The patience to let go, to let the music unfold its potential and carry you away, to give it yet another chance if you weren’t receptive enough before. Ultimately, you might find yourself totally immersed in what is likely to become one of the best Metal albums of 2013.
For me, the first two spins of this album were nice, but didn’t leave a lasting impression. I’ve been exploring other forms of music lately and having a hard time enjoying Metal altogether, so it took me some effort to give it a chance in the first place – months ago I had been eagerly awaiting this release, and when it came, I didn’t know what to do with it. Then, one evening, I thought to myself, “I gotta write this review and give this album a proper chance.” But I was tired and didn’t expect that I would be receptive at all. Still, I put on my best headphones and stuck to my plan. The slowly towering tidal wave of emotion and atmosphere hit me totally unprepared, and left me devastated. Being a long-standing fan of the band, my expectations were rather high, and at first my feelings about the apparent changes in the songwriting approach had been mixed, but now I realised that The Prophecy have indeed refined their distinctive style even further. Salvation is clearly the product of a mature band pursuing an authentic vision uncompromisingly.
With their last two excellent outputs Revelations (2007) and Into the Light (2009), the band had already transcended the (Death) Doom framework by far. Their song structures had become progressive in nature, calling to mind later day Novembre or even Opeth and, in the mellower sections, the mood of Anathema in their late nineties / early two-thousands period, all of this with a backbone rooting in classic British Death Doom. In direct comparison to its predecessor, the new album is calmer, more minimalist, less directly accessible, and I’ll say it again: it needs more patience. Most of the time, you will wait in vain for the structural and melodic dynamics that used to make the earlier albums so gripping. The songs build up slowly with fewer catchy hooks and vocal melodies, and instead of intense chord progressions, the harmonic structure is often reduced to modulations around a single base chord to create a bleak, hypnotic feel. The more immediate, engaging elements such as Matt Lawson’s brilliant vocal performance (with his strong growl only appearing at a few places this time) and Greg O’Shea’s trademark lead guitar are still present, but they have been cut down in favour of a stronger focus on atmosphere. However, the arrangements sound very rich and are drenched in a paradox sense of beautiful melancholy, complete with lush acoustic guitars and sublime violin textures. As usual, there are some technical intricacies, but they are placed very carefully and always serve the benefit of the songs, adding depth and complexity; The Prophecy have always steered clear of the self-indulgent show-off attitude that can make Progressive Metal so tedious.
Upon close listening, the album reveals many subtle, yet effective details and well thought-out structures which seem to go hand in hand with the lyrical concept and can be extremely touching, provided that the listener can relate to the emotions and experiences conveyed. I for one found myself confronted with sore memories and was able to use the music as a means of catharsis – listening sessions of such intensity are rare, and a band that manages to come up with material so evocative, so sincere as to provoke such a reaction deserves a whole lot of respect.
Do not expect to hear Into the Light part two or even a return to proper Death Doom. Some Doom purists may find this album too mellow or even melodramatic, but if you are looking for something truly emotive and deep, and are ready to approach Salvation with an open mind, you might make a wonderful discovery. Although still somewhat unknown outside of the Doom scene, The Prophecy have proven once more that they are among the very best melancholic Metal bands currently active.
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4. In Silence
Duration : Approx. 49 minutes
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