Illimitable Dolor is separated into four fairly lengthy cuts, all with a pretty crisp modern production that manages to capture every emotion in the compositions with ease, all the while maintaining the unnerving sensation of a raw effort with its chamber-like qualities lying underneath each note. One moment you are greeted with a beautiful, almost uplifting folkish performance that can instantly revitalize hope within the listener, only to come crashing back down to the darkest days of reality, pushing the sensation of total loss through soul crippling riffs and drums at a lethargic pace right down to the beautifully mournful funeral atmosphere compliments the addition of a church organ keyboard effect. It’s that sudden shift in life that proves to be the strongest point of Illimitable Dolor‘s work, and it makes for some of the most depressing material you could hope to hear next to the member’s main project, My Dying Bride and Draconian.
|“This album actually means a bit more to me than most I’ve done as musically the album was all written in the days following the death of my best friend Gregg Williamson in December 2014, when I was miserable as fuck. Gregg was known to many as the vocalist from THE SLOW DEATH. Usually I can’t write when I’m feeling that way but these songs just came together so easily and I think it’s the heaviest and most miserable thing I’ve ever been part of but kind of special because of this. It was an outlet for how I was feeling at the time, an opportunity to do something useful rather than sitting around depressed.”
– Stuart Prickett, vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist
Of course, the most depressing bits of this debut doesn’t creep in until later. In fact, if you knew nothing about the band and why they existed, “Rail of Moon, A Stone” would deceive you into expected some norse inspired doom metal in the same vein as Moonsorrow, or just another The Slow Death release (not that that’s a bad thing of course). While the opening riffs capture both misery and wonder looking up to the late night sky, the mood begins to jump between this pondering and a mournful realization of one’s own mortality. Your haggard body glances across the lakebed one last time as thoughts growl through you skull. You eventually hobble to your death-bed to think about your accomplishments and close your eyes for the very last time, passing from this plain of existence to the next just shy of nine minutes in. This carries into “Comes Dies or Shines” as it escorts you into the next life across the river Styx, never once telling your eternal soul all will be fine and leaving you in fear of what is next to come.
And then we move on to the part most of us are quite familiar with. “Salt of Brazen Seas” holds no punches with its beautiful church organ laden misery. As if assuring the listener (or metaphorical mourner seated to pay their respects) there’s a subtle hint of hope felt in those keys to soothe the hardest hit. The deep guttural work perfectly to capture the mood, as if a voice speaking a memorial you simply cannot focus on and becomes distorted in your own head. Finally there’s “Abandoned Cuts of River”, which is one of the more lively performances at first. Infectious slower death metal marches on before caving to the crippling beauty of day light upon the aforementioned lake, gazing out as the fallen warrior is cast on his/her final journey on this mortal coil. It stands as a truly heartfelt good-bye that will bring tears to the listeners eyes as clean singing joins the growling farewells in total harmony.
Illimitable Dolor isn’t so much a side-project release from one of the more poignant bands in the death/doom genre, but rather a complete experience that passes from life to the depths of despair we have had to experience before. What this album contains is an unexpected memorial to those lost over the years, bringing up memories of my father’s passing last month, my friend who passed too early, and many more. Watching loved ones suffer the death throes of cancer and seeing their bodies reduced to nothing but a box or urn of ash and ripping your soul apart, or tearing your mind from reality as you try to grasp that the body you’re staring at was once someone strong and brave. In other words there were a number of times I had to fight back tears, and others I simply couldn’t. This is a debut outing the reminds listeners of the fragility of life and how painful it truly can be. While it may be torture for some on an emotional level, the passion, beauty, and depression felt on this debut outing is one that will both have you in tears, and not leave you for quite some time.