Album of the Month

The debut full-length from Greek band Automaton is weighty, sludgy, coffin-lid-slamming Doom perfection.
(Read more)

Random band

Uaigneas play Ceol Breatha Gaelach or Gaelic Doom Metal. A sobre kind of Folk Metal, drenched in old Irish traditions, it stays away from the bombast and...
(read more)

Eyes of Ligeia : The Sidereal Messenger

Eyes Of Ligeia resume their pre-2006 solo tangent, with some deliciously atmospheric and distinctive moments.

Eyes Of Ligeia have been around a long time, having originally been formed as a one-man project in 1998, briefly becoming a full band in the mid-2000s, and then dropping into a long-term hiatus in 2007. This album, released mid-2015, marks the return of the project as Toby Chappell's solo work. Unfortunately, although Toby was good enough to send us a review copy at the time, the vagaries of maintaining a disparate group of volunteer reviewers meant that although it travelled far and wide, it never actually got written up at any time. Mea culpa, and, as a result - I have to say - something of a pity, for its atmospheric and intriguing content to thus far have been overlooked by us.

I didn't get the CD copy back from its last would-be reviewer excursion, but I remember it as a standard jewelcase format, informative enough, containing all the lyrics, and illustrated with odd glyphs, symbols and cosmic artwork. A glance at all of that, and at the song titles, and you can be fairly certain that although Ligeia's famously dark eyes might be taken from Poe's canon, this material leans far more towards Lovecraft and the Weird Tales group of authors who all expanded and added to the Mythos.

Investigating a bit further reveals that 'The Sidereal Messenger' is really the spiritual successor to 2004's 'What The Moon Brings' - the intervening Bethlehem-esque Black/Doom of 'A Fever Which Would Cling To Thee Forever' having been pretty much entirely abandoned. Instead, we are presented with a continuation of what could at best only ever nominally have been considered melodic Death/Doom as a flag of convenience, and is now some way from any semblance of that. If you had to take a baseline for this album, then perhaps the gloomy and skeletal lilt, punctuated by heavier and darker passages, has something of a Dolorian feel to it in some sections, and more of instrumental act Nocturnal Lust in others. But it isn't that simple, though there is a certain easily-covered minimalism in the building blocks used: forefront guitar/bass lines, restlessly playing off against each other, the occasional interjection of sombre keys, indecipherably spaced-out soft vocal whisper/growls, and precise, bone-dry, drum machine beats and fills.

The devil is in the detail, and the details rather evade any clear genre boundaries. There's very little that resembles a conventional riff or chord: the guitars, often in unsettlingly slight dissonant and discordant contrast, are largely clean and undistorted, and heavily arpeggiated, almost King Crimson-like - and when they venture elsewhere it tends to be towards Post-rock textural passages. Their evolution, through the long and largely-instrumental compositions, has the hypnotic repetitiveness of Funeral Doom, but presented at much higher tempo and with a Black - or at least blackened - vibe to it. The organ-voiced keyboards augment that with indistinct, background contributions that have a strong '70s rock flavour to them (I doubt I'd be the first person to think of Deep Purple, in places), adding to the feeling there should probably be a Prog- tag in there somewhere, if only for the complexity of the intertwining guitars.

Now, all of that may sound like a recipe for disaster, or possibly just for something unrecognisable as a Doom venture, but it is in fact neither. Whilst the instrumentation is both distinctive and idiosyncratic - particularly the oddly blunt, dead sound of the drums sitting in weird counterpoint to the organic nature of everything else - it actually works very well taken as a whole. And what it creates is very much a Doom atmosphere - solemn, dark, oppressive, redolent with mystery and lightless, buried secrets best left undisturbed - even if it is one which defies easy categorisation. It's a slow-burning one, admittedly: if you're seeking instant gratification, this probably isn't going to provide it; it takes a while for those disturbing whispers to really get under your skin, and start to weave their compulsive spell. But it's not really a cerebral exercise to get into it - though it's a clever piece of work, its actual impact is more of a visceral than an intellectual one, something you can feel rather than analyse to the nth degree. And that, in itself, is a pretty neat approach to have pulled off.

Looking back at my colleague Chaim's review of 'What The Moon Brings', it's clear we're of a similar mind as to what makes these albums work - perhaps unsurprisingly, given that 'The Sidereal Messenger' overlaps considerably in both execution and technique. It's a more refined and complete evolution, however, with a softer edge to the production that offers an improved balance to the dreamy surrealities of its disparate elements. I'm undecided if that even forms a caveat or not: the harsher contrasts of earlier works may provide a more direct connection to the Doom ethos, but this is undoubtedly the easier soundscape to drown in. So, if you haven't encountered Eyes Of Ligeia before, this is a pretty good place to start, and if you have, it's a pretty good continuation of the band's original direction. Either way, this is certainly worth your time and attention. Thoroughly recommended, and our apologies that it hasn't been featured before.

Click HERE to discuss this review on the doom-metal forum.

Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Coruscations Of The Daemon-Light
2. The Going Forth Of Sothis
3. The Sidereal Messenger
4. Through Angles Mirrored With Thoughts
5. Descending Node Incantation

Duration : Approx. 55 minutes

Visit the Eyes of Ligeia bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-04-25 by Mike Liassides
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com