Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Death the Leveller – I (2017) / 82%

Balanced and potent formula

I was intrigued to see that Cruz Del Sur were gonna release the debut album of Death the Leveller in March 2020 so I went back to check their 2017 EP to get myself ready. Doom metal? Check. Best traditional metal label in the world? Check. Buddies of the best metal band in the world (Primordial)? Check. I was excited to hear this. Formed by the instrumental core of Mael Mórdha, a band I’ve heard a decade ago but forgot about, Death the Leveller dismissed the folk elements of their former band and decided to explore the bleakness that doom can convey.

I was pretty much sold the moment I saw the artwork combined with the epic track lengths of that “extended play”. I mean, it’s almost forty minutes of music divided within four songs... Plenty of meat on the bone. The quartet has this compelling dark aesthetic that’s really appealing to me as far as doom metal goes. I knew what to expect with that skeleton holding a balance and I wasn’t disappointed. I guess they could be compared to Dread Sovereign, Alan Averill’s doom metal side project but I’ve found them more interesting. “All Hell’s Martyrs” was a disappointment for me and I think I haven’t heard their followup yet. The thought of a doom metal Primordial was intriguing and Death the Leveller kind of filled that need.

The vocals of Denis Dowling have the same passion and intensity as Averill’s but they’re also cleaner and more rooted in pure heavy metal. Robust singing all around here. Really memorable, in fact. The ending of the last track “How to Track Pernicious Spells” made me shiver. The instrumentation is pretty pristine and the production sis top notch, they’re veteran musicians after all, that’s obvious enough. They're super good at building crescendos, creating tensions and just using their extended song structures efficiently.

The songs are all pretty much nine to ten minutes but they’re filled to the brim with riffs and they’re not what I’d call slow either. “Gone Forever” has insanely good riffing till the end of its duration. I’d say that Death the Leveller plays some sort of melancholic, atmospheric doom metal which isn’t too far away from what traditional doom can be at times. Bands like Warning, Mirror of Deception or The River navigates the sad waters of depressive doom but there's many more mysterious islands to discover. Death the Leveller definitely has a boat with several oarsmen since they’re constantly active, constantly bludgeoning and constantly interesting throughout the forty minutes duration. I’m turning thirty in like two months and long albums can be a drag to listen to nowadays so I’m hoping their album isn’t seventy minutes! Just like Primordial, you come out emotionally drained after spinning them.

It’s intense without being abrasive, dark without being shallow and trite, epic and complex without being syrupy. I’m quite stoked for what’s to come.


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