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SubRosa : More Constant Than The Gods

The new SubRosa album is a must-have for lovers of sophisticated Doom and a strong contender for ‘best Doom album of the year’.

Some bands really make you wonder where they take all their creativity from. Two years after their massive sophomore No Help for the Mighty Ones, SubRosa return with a new album which is just as packed with great ideas. Once again, the Salt Lake City outfit proves to be one of the most unique and interesting bands in the contemporary scene, reaching a level of sophistication which is almost unchallenged. However, it’s not like nothing had happened in those two years: More Constant Than the Gods plays in an equally high league and will not disappoint any fan, but at a closer look, it is still quite different.

The most basic difference between the two albums is, at first glance, a purely mathematical one: despite having fewer tracks (six as opposed to eight), the new full-length exceeds the playing time of its predecessor by nine minutes. As trivial as this may seem at first, it already hints at the central development the band’s style has undergone. The new songs take their time, and if you want to fully appreciate them, you will need to be in the right mood and have a healthy dose of patience. Mind you, the music will be impressive enough even without those prerequisites, but the song structures are drawn-out and less dynamic than before, which makes the album as a whole more demanding, given the lack of catchy hooks to serve as focal points. Clearly, the musicians do not care much about you banging or singing along – their main concern seems to be the atmosphere of their music, and believe me, there is plenty of that on More Constant Than the Gods. Much of it is created by the ghostly and distant murmurings of the electric violins which, drenched in reverb, carve their way through the heavy backbone of the music and sneak under your skin before you know it. In case you don’t know the band yet and expect the worst as soon as you read the word ‘violin’, rest assured that SubRosa probably deserve the prize for the most unromantic use of violins and (clean) female vocals in Doom. Throughout the entire album, there is not the slightest hint of Goth cheese; instead, everything sounds authentically dark and tragic while steering clear of self-pity and melodrama.

Even though the band’s trademark Stoner-tinged guitar sound and rocking rhythm section sound quite different from the majority of what qualifies as ‘proper’ Doom Metal, the songwriting principles epitomise the essence of Doom better than many of your average Funeral Doom dirges thanks to the primary focus on atmosphere. Behind the wall of noisy guitars, there is a subtle but intricate depth filled with intense feelings of sorrow, anguish and regret. This immense potential of the songs will only come to fruition upon close listening, although you will ‘feel’ much of it intuitively. This is one of those rare albums which can make you forget everything around you and get totally immersed in the atmosphere (if you let them). The excellent artwork and evocative lyrics add to the overall effect. And then, there is also enough variation between the songs to keep things interesting throughout the long playing time despite the fact that the arrangements often seem simplistic on the surface. The fragile closing track “No Safe Harbor” deserves to be mentioned in this context: it is calm throughout except for a few distorted chords in the middle section. Its particularly touching text combines perfectly with the beautiful interplay between piano, flute, violin, vocals and hammered dulcimer (again, without sounding stereotypical in any way). You will find that this song has a special charm to it and can make you all awestruck when you first hear it. And how often does that happen these days?

After all that has been said, it should be clear that More Constant Than the Gods is a must-have for anyone into sophisticated Doom or generally anyone looking for something deep, intense and challenging. I would go so far as to say that SubRosa’s new opus is a strong contender for ‘best Doom album of the year’. Don’t miss it!

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. The Usher
2. Ghosts of a Dead Empire
3. Cosey Mo
4. Fat of the Ram
5. Affliction
6. No Safe Harbor

Duration : Approx. 67 minutes

Visit the SubRosa bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-12-09 by Dominik Sonders
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