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Doomed : Our Ruin Silhouettes

It's still Doomed...but better.

You know it's a Doomed album immediately. That distinctive green/brown cover, overlaid with dark and wickedly sinister paper-cut images, links it directly to predecessors 'In My Own Abyss' and 'The Ancient Path'. The quality of packaging, once again by Solitude Productions, is just a little more lush and generous than before: the enclosed booklet now offering extra pages of art, as well as all lyrics and other information.

That gives a hint as to what to expect from the latest chapter in Pierre Laube's solo project work, 'Our Ruin Silhouettes': both continuity from, and refinement of, the quality set by the two 2012 releases. Those established a solid merger of dispassionately melodic lines and blunt, brutal rhythms, treading an effective and individual line between accessible and extreme Death/Doom, and any listener wanting more of that is not going to be disappointed.

There's more to it than simply being the third chapter of the same book, though. Yes, the trademark elements remain: hefty bass and well-managed drum programming drive the generally mid-tempo paces, layers of hard-edged rhythm guitar and occasional synth ornaments add depth and body beneath sharper and more precise leads, powerful and deep growls dominate the vocals, and the production gives them all a pleasing clarity and forcefulness. But it also sounds as though the longer intervening break has been put to good use, allowing time for a greater maturing of the composition, both at track and album level. There is more variety within the songs, which also incorporate a greater range of interesting intro/outro sections - such as chants and other effects - and they are laid out to give more contrast and variation across the whole. All, perhaps, perfectly demonstrated by the way the album opens with a Latin liturgy rather than a power chord.

Of course, there are power chords to follow, once 'When Hope Disappears' gets into its moderately fast stride: aside from featuring guest vocal contributions by Pim Blankenstein, it has that typically massive, slightly abrupt, sound which lets the listener know they are on something like familiar territory. Something like - for there are also moments like the martial drumbeats of 'In My Own Abyss', the high-speed sections of 'The Last Meal' (also featuring additional vocals, from Andreas Kaufmann), the spoken-word passage in 'My Hand In Yours' and the hoarse whispering in 'Revolt' to add twists and turns to the plot. These serve to subtly yet definitely break up the slightly monolithic deliveries exhibited on the preceding albums, not to alleviate the overall sense of dense, crushing doom, but to refocus the listener on it. As a result, although the core techniques and values remain the same, the additional compelling of attention imbues them with a greater intensity and sense of purpose.

It would be hard to identify any serious criticism here, evolving as it has from what was already an impressively high standard. The tracks, all hovering between the six- and nine-minute mark, unfold without dragging or overstaying their welcome, centring around the expected themes of confronting loss and ruin at both a personal and societal level. None show any weakness, and the high points of 'In My Own Abyss' and 'Revolt' exemplify the progression made by the album. Accessible as the music may be, it most certainly isn't uplifting: the rawness of the debut may be a distant memory, but the immense, bleakly powerful nature of it is definitely not.

To conclude, then, Doomed remains a largely prosaic entity: the music and lyrical content just as much so as the band name. All of those, matter-of-factly, take a blunt presumption of the grimness of existence and give that a clear, unambiguous, unsentimental voice. Even the continuing (and excellent) graphic theme is direct and to the point, leaving little room for metaphorical interpretation. That isn't any kind of failing; it's a statement of intent, and 'Our Ruin Silhouettes' fits in perfectly with that unfolding manifesto. And so, to match it with an equally prosaic summary: this is Doomed. But better.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. When Hope Disappears
2. In My Own Abyss
3. A Recurrent Dream
4. The Last Meal
5. My Hand In Yours
6. Revolt
7. What Remains

Duration : Approx. 54 minutes

Visit the Doomed bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-05-30 by Mike Liassides
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