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Station Dysthymia : Overhead, Without Any Fuss, the Stars Were Going Out

Station Dysthymia's sophomore: a real audio description of the Apocalypse.

Four years after its first album 'Only Gray Days', the Russian band Station Dysthymia released its sophomore, introducing a certain number of evolutions - thematic as well as musical - to its Funeral Doom. The morose, grayish and urban atmosphere of the debut album has indeed been replaced here by a more spacy, cosmic and at times cataclysmic one, drawing its influence from Science Fiction literature: the title of the album being, in fact, a quote from "The Nine Billion Names of God", a short story by the famous writer Arthur C. Clarke.

And 'A Concrete Wall', the 35-minute-long monster opening the album, is a perfect illustration of this concept. The "Concrete Wall" to which the title relates is simply the end of times, the Armageddon itself, the last moment before our whole world vanishes into the void. The particularly elaborated and detailed illustration that the Russian musicians give us of this shows how incommensurable and implacable such an event obviously is, through a songwriting work as evocative as it is fascinating. One of the most memorable ways this is dealt with is in the parallelism noticeable between the topical progression and the musical progression; the various sequences of the track are linked in a very narrative fashion, which makes it something more than just a simple song about the Apocalypse: a real audio description of this event.
For example, in the first part of the track - though there's no attempt to hide the fact that the end is near and that the whole world is doomed - the lyrics have a mystical tone which could let us think that the zen acceptance of our fate is the only thing able to help us in such a trial; this being translated musically through a dark chorus repetitively asking us to "embrace end of times", and through Tibetan throat singing. But when, after a long instrumental interlude - where the Doom Metal instrumentation is replaced by a far more experimental style, both minimalist and complex and based on a hypnotic use of strange guitar effects (which seem to embody the doubt arising in the mind of the most experienced Zen master) - the sung parts finally return, the lyrics have lost a substantial part of their mysticism and have become much more nihilistic and down-to-earth: since the whole universe is condemned to extinction, no matter how morally or immorally you choose to live out the remaining time.
When, finally, the catastrophe really begins, the listener can hear a terrifying concert of screams of horror (featuring M.Hater and I.Stellarghost from Abstract Spirit, the latter being also responsible for the synths on the ending track), embodying the whole of Humanity being obliterated and vanishing into nothingness. It's not surprising, therefore, that from this point the rest of the composition remains strictly instrumental: the only real way to depict the cloud of particles floating in the spatial void that, from then, will be the last evidence of Eath's past existence. A song as cataclysmic as its is captivating, from start to finish..

So captivating, in fact, that one could wonder if the rest of the album is really dispensable, and if there's really anything left to add to such a masterpiece. It may not be surprising, then, that 'Ichor', the next song, is at first not wholly convincing. Though this track is interesting, overall, and adds new elements to the band's sound (a part with an organ, for example), it's still too soon after 'A Concrete Wall', and too conventional compared to it, to really catch the attention of a listener still under the influence of the aforementioned behemoth. However, after a certain number of plays 'Ichor' grows in interest, notably due to the few melancholic passages it contains and which prefigure the two last tracks. Indeed, the latter ones display a sadder, yet still astral and spacy, atmosphere, making these tracks really interesting, though not as impressive as 'A Concrete Wall'. It's also noticeable that these songs don't forget to surprise the listener, such as with the short but odd acceleration in 'A Rude Awakening', which is reminiscent of 'The Trip' from the band's first album. These two last tracks and, to a lesser extent, 'Ichor', lead the listener in a strange kind of cosmic depression, like the one that an astronaut would feel while watching from space as his home planet undergoes the events described in 'A Concrete Wall'...

To conclude, 'Overhead, Without Any Fuss, The Stars Were Going Out' is an excellent album, impressing by its strong atmosphere and by the skilful songwriting displayed, especially in the first song. Station Dysthymia is clearly a band to keep an eye on.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. A Concrete Wall
2. Ichor
3. Starlit - A Rude Awakening
4. Starlit - We Rest At Last

Duration : Approx. 72 minutes

Visit the Station Dysthymia bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-07-27 by Louis Halard
Aesthetic Death
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