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Asunder : A Clarion Call



Could there ever be a happy slab of doom? Or into it, could there be a happy slab of a strange brew of traditional, epic, death, funeral - doom? Hasn't anybody noticed a paradox here?…

I mention the 'funeral' thing, because I have seen this adjective being mindlessly thrown into cyberspace, when describing Asunder's music, and all I have to say is that the funeral-doom style has been whored, watered-down and has become a cheap, misused, overused term, being used and abused to describe any music that is played somewhat slower than usual, maybe for lack of other terms, maybe for lack of understanding. Funeral doom seems to be the latest bandwagon, the latest hype and fashion, and besides, it is so fucking cool to throw that term to every direction and be considered a man of understanding...Funeral doom is not about all that, not even close, and I'll leave the discussion just at this point. I'll only say this, in regards to Asunder's music: 'A Clarion Call' is definitely not funeral-doom, nor are many other albums, considered as such…

...And yet, this three-song album is something I'd like to own, especially in its vinyl format, because it is something that should be kept, well, on vinyl. Funny, ridiculous even, I know, inexplicable, I know yet again, but there you have it - a fact. 'A Clarion Call' owns a certain ‘back-to-roots’ quality, it bears something familiar, in such a manner that one could have sworn one heard those sounds somewhere, sometime, but sounds one could not pinpoint...ha...Maybe this nostalgia is responsible to me craving this album on vinyl…ha.

Although Asunder suffers - or more accurately, this album - from the "doom-metal-almost-devoid-of-doom-atmosphere" syndrome, meaning it is a fine so-called doom-played album lacking any real doom-ish essence, it still is a fine album in any given category, and one that has played its tricky way into my (sub)consciousness, one that has beckoned me to return and listen to it yet again, with no real reason, without genuine rationale. Or is there a reason still?…

If anything, this album is eclectic, in the sense that the songs don’t stick to one, defined style/pattern, and due to the tracks being long, the style even varies within each track, in rhythm, in vocals, in added/subtracted elements, those extra-long songs of almost sluggish pace, keep the interest level high at all time, from beginning to the end of those magical forty minutes, and mind you - not many bands can hold a listener’s attention focused on their music, and into it, music such as this…

At first, as is the case with more and more albums, I was dispassionate about this album, thinking I’m listening to yet another deja-vu of an album, and I have been wrong, yet again…

'A Clarion Call' has a My Dying Bride affinity, for it incorporates strings in the form of Cello (or a couple of them, I think), an 'As the Shadows Fall'-era Godsend aesthetics - vocals and sound wise, occasionally - and it has got a 'Forest of Equilibrium'-era Cathedral vibe, for it is slightly 'groovy' in the guitar sound, but at the same time the guitars are crunchy and grinding of sorts, whiny and happy and simultaneously down-tuned and heavier-than-heavy...Paradoxical? Definitely, although not quite non-appealing, on the contrary…

Yet even though those slight resemblances and band-connotations hover around and within the recording, the music Asunder plays is far and away from the above-mentioned Godfathers of doom (although Cathedral is worth mentioning, if at all, merely for its debut album, nothing more than that, as is the case with Godsend, I guess…). 'A Clarion Call' bears its own, unique brand, and is light-years afar from any artistic theft.

'A Clarion Call' is appealing mostly because it summons shadows of old, scents of decades ago, visions and sonic flavors forgotten, ancient - well, at least on a metal time-scale, that is - soundscapes and emotions neglected, for Asunder's biggest accomplishment with this recording is the sound - or shall I say - the production of this album, and although it was recorded in recent times, it could have easily been considered a decade and a half old recording, for its intrinsic, intriguing qualities. Similar to good wine, getting better with every passing year, fuller in taste, the aroma becoming more pungent yet pleasant and fulfilling, such is this album, minus the ripening time, metaphorically speaking of course…This album brings me, as if by a time-machine, fifteen years ago, as I mentioned above, to where it all started, when any album, any style, any emotion generated or sound were something initial and pure and full of magic and bewilderment, when this young boy swallowed in owe anything he'd heard, anything, for it all was a carnival of curiosities, all virginal and so very interesting…

Longer-than-long tracks, each manifests magnificent, somber journeys to lands unknown, coupled with excellent, poetic lyricism of utmost beauty and wisdom (think of Morgion's 'Solinari' lyrics), all combined, all interwoven beautifully into each other, to result in a good, satisfying album of many qualities that are rare to find nowadays.

Why does it lack the 'doom' something in it, you may ask? Although being very slowly played, although crushingly heavy on any account, it lacks the 'absence of light' quality, the deep melancholy those very few special real doom albums are charged with. The suffocating feeling, the absolute darkness, all-consuming, all-encompassing, the desolation… Asunder's music is almost 'optimistic' of sorts, the dissonant distorted guitars and growled deep vocals fail at generating atmosphere of filth and decadence, of pain and extreme sorrow, not that many a band succeed in that, for most of them fail, but at least Asunder hasn’t failed completely, for lacking of doom-ish spirit does not mean - in this case - lack of originality, interest, quality or enjoyment from the music, for the music is quite phenomenal here.

I enjoyed this recording a great deal, and am recommending it to anyone really into good music first, doom fanatics later and to the veterans of metal for the sake of good ol’ times, if only for the nostalgia experience, and a little more…I only wish the excellent musicians of Asunder could find that special spice, ingredient, that could be added to the cauldron, that will eventually dye their superb music with the colours of doom. Metaphorically speaking, of course…

Support this band, by all means!

Note by the Admin (2013): since this review has been written, the band has split up.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated

Information

Tracklist :
1. Twilight Amaranthine
2. Crown of Eyes
3. A Clarion Call

Duration : Approx. 40 minutes

Visit the Asunder bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Chaim Drishner
Altsphere: boutique doom metal black death heavy - CD vinyl
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