Artist: Everson Poe
Label: Trepanation Recordings
Release Date: 13/11/2020
I’m starting today with one of my favourite albums of the year and one of my new personal favourite albums within the genre of doom death. I’m talking about Everson Poe’s latest offering Rituals, which drops this Friday on Trepanation Recordings.
Rather than explaining who Everson Poe is myself, I’ll let the artist do it, they state that “‘Everson Poe is a one-person project from Chicago, IL. Mae Shults has been releasing music as Everson Poe for over 10 years. As a queer & genderqueer individual, they incorporate themes of gender identity and mental health into nearly all of their songs, filtered through lenses inspired by various forms of pop culture, or simply their own imaginative storytelling.” Every album that Mae releases is vastly different to the last, working in completely different genres, such as metal, or punk or electronica depending on the release and it’s theme.
Ritual is Mae’s fourth album this year and they’ve decided to make a powerfully emotional style of doom death with some black metal and sludge influences. The lyrical theme of the album will again be better explained by the artist than me, so for the last time in this review I’m going to quote them. They state that they, “drew inspiration from the Shades Of Magic book series (Antari), the television show Dark (Ariadne), a gruesome nightmare in which they lost all senses but touch (Notre Fin Nous Connaît), and disdain for religious zealotry (Fallow / Hallowed), each story holds rituals at its core.” While this is a themed album focusing on the concept of ritualism, each track is a concept song inspired by an individual theme or story. It makes the album that much more engaging and unique.
So, let’s start talking about the music, the simplest way I would describe it is that its what I wish Katatonia still sounded like. When I say that I mean that it’s highly reminiscent (to me at least) of Dance of December Souls, which is regarded by many (including myself) as one of the finest pieces of doom death ever created. The music contains the same sense of rawness, despair and anguish that the classic managed to conjur and trust me that is no easy feat. It’s a sound that I’ve personally been chasing for years and when I first listened to this release it blew my mind that I had finally found it. The fact that they managed to work in so many DSBM elements (depressive suicidal black metal for those who don’t know) truly impressed me, particularly because it happens to be one of my all-time favourite subgenres within metal.
We start with track 1 Antari which as mentioned is inspired by the book series Shades of Magic. This also happens to be the only track on the album that is currently available for you to listen to. The song has a moody and depressive instrumental atmosphere to it. The vocals are raw and pained, sitting firmly within the death metal style. I wouldn’t call them guttural though, they’re definitely more raw, they’re a little shaky and sound pained and that’s what makes them so amazing. They actually sound very similar to those of Gore from Greek atmospheric death metal band Horrified (who if you don’t know you should check out). There are also pained semi-clean shouted vocals that add plenty of effect. At times we also get some vocals bordering on black metal in style. The instrumental work shifts between doom, death and black metal in nature, with tempos rising and falling at different intervals on the track, But the one thing that is consistent is the level of emotion present in the guitar tone, something that I’ve always loved about this style of doom death.
Track 2 Ariadne as mentioned is based on the tv show Dark and happens to be my favourite song on the album. the reason being that there’s even more rawness and emotion on this track. The vocals are even more pained and drawn out, with each word at points cutting into you like a knife in the heart. You can really feel the anguish and conviction in the music, with the message behind the music being equally as powerful. The instrumentals again perfectly compliment the vocals and shift freely between genres as the song requires.
Track 3 Notre Fin Nouse Connaît as mentioned is a song based on a nightmare in which all senses, but touch have been lost to the character in the song. The concept of which is terrifying on its own, but when expressed in this medium takes on a whole new sense of dread. The instrumentals start out very much black metal in nature and the vocals are a layered blend between death metal and shouted clean vocals. We then shift into more straight cut doom death until we approach the five minute mark when the song becomes clean cut DSBM. Things are at the peak of their emotional rawness here, with the vocals taking on the signature pained shrieks of bands such as Lifelover and Psychonaut 4.
The final song on the album Fallow, Hallowed focuses on a disdain of religious zealotry, a view that I personally fully share. The song starts of slow, with very minimalistic instrumentals, allowing the pained vocals to tear through and take the complete focus of the listener. The music here is very atmospheric in nature and adds and unsettling undertone to the song. This continues to around 3:45 when things shift into reverb and feedback laden doom. Around the 6-minute mark things get really interesting with an almost entrancing drumbeat taking the lead and psychedelic elements entering the mix. Then suddenly we shift into black metal style instrumentals again, with the vocals shifting to match at around the 8-minute mark. We are back to the DSBM style vocals from track 3 and they’re equally as raw as before. The song shifts back to doom death which follows through to the end of both the track and the album as a whole.
All I have to say is WOW, what a listening experience. This is easily one of the best albums of the year, at least in my eyes and I highly suggest that all of you listen to it. Whether you’re a doom fan, a black metal fan or a death metal fan I’m sure that you will find something that you love about this release.
Listen to the pre-released track below and get your pre-orders in today: