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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Detritivor​e - Pakt [Lyderhorn Records - 2010]

If I’d reviewed this after the first listen, I think I would have slated this album; purely down to personal prejudices and disappointed expectations. Fortunately, I’m contractually bound to listen more than once…

The artwork, by the remarkable Justin Bartlett, is beautiful: standard metal content (skulls, pentagrams, devils, upturned crosses…) delivered in a non-standard form. (This standard/non-standard notion, as regards the accepted traditions of metal, is one to keep in mind with Detritivore.) It’s dreamlike and grotesque, with childlike touches; a worthy addition to Bartlett’s vast work, which includes pieces for Portal, Lasse Marhaug and Family Battle Snake, amongst many others. The back cover has utterly unreadable track titles, which is always a plus - unless you happen to be reviewing said album…

The first track, “Postludium”, sets out Detritivore’s stall quite succinctly. Shifting constructions which combine melancholic guitar parts (quiet and loud) with more soundy elements; with a minimum of vocals or percussion - all presented in the doom metal idiom. “Postludium” passed by my ears to little effect, but it felt like an “intro” as such; and so I waited for what I hoped would inevitably arrive with the second track. After one and a half minutes of rising feedback, I got my wishes: a large crushing doom riff. I waited for the drums and the cookie monster vocals to arrive, and I waited, and I waited, waited… They never came. At which point my well-rehearsed confusion at “Doom-Drone” bands took over my brain, and I decided the album would be bad before I’d even finished listening to it. I’m old-fashioned. I love doom, but I like it with drums and vocals; whether its Messiah Marcolin and Candlemass or Hevi and Corrupted. I remember Earth coming out on Sub Pop, and I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. The point being, I have an irrational prejudice against “this kind of thing” - and yet, despite this, I have to say that this is actually a good album.

Ironically enough, the riff that led to my disappointment is a really great riff - the sort of brutal, unadorned riff that Corrupted would happily pummel into the ground for half an hour. Its accompanied by feedback and ghostly vocal sounds; and then before you know it, its over. Most of the doom riffs on here are in a similar vein, though a section of “Postludium” has shades of early Paradise Lost. But you shouldn’t think for a second that this is an album filled with heavy guitar riffs - far from it. They’re scattered throughout and act as events in the overall structure, rather than the structure itself. The title track, for example, has a riff which acts as a theme - being returned to several times, interspersed with more soundy parts. The album is largely vocal-less - indeed, in the one track which does feature prominent vocals, they’re mixed very quietly; and wisely so. Thus essentially shorn of percussion and vocals, Detritivore have had to look to a different language than the standard metal one. So rather than one riff leading to another, and eventually to a chorus of sorts; there’s a more abstract sense of composition. It would be a precocious comparison to mention Scott Walker’s ‘recent” work, but imagine a doom metal band at least aiming at those heights… It doesn’t always work: on the track “Pakt”, there’s a harmony part which borders on ridiculousness, and the recording of road-works in a bed of choral voices (on “Undergang”) is somewhat farcical; but its a brave album. It feels different. I can’t pretend to “like” it as such, but I certainly respect it; especially in the light of my initial prejudice.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Martin P
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