On Pain of Death: Year Naught Doom

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On Pain of Death: Year Naught Doom
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On Pain of Death: Year Naught Doom
Death Metal, Doom Metal
Handshake Inc.
September 22nd, 2012
Release length: 42:23
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Ireland’s Death/Doom Metal four-piece, On Pain of Death, have signed with Handshake Inc. to release the follow-up to 2009’s one song self-released EP, Rotting in a Tomb of Depravity. Titled Your Naught Doom, this effort finds three brand new songs that span over forty minutes of bludgeoning despair. With more of a cult following composed of loyal fans, this band hasn’t made much of an impact for themselves since forming, as well as releasing their first demo recording, On Pain of Death, back in 2008. But, will Year Naught Doom attract new fans, or will this effort be one best left to the cold depths of the underground?

On Pain of Death does carry the necessary sound for this brand of Metal, though it isn’t always as heavy as you would like it to be. The crawling pace is accentuated by an already deep and quite rich, though distinctively crisp guitar distortion, which is enhanced by the crushing bass guitar which mimics that volume level to the point where the two merge more into one cohesive instrument of destruction. The drumming is handled well, having enough activity to keep the song from sounding empty. The cymbals are at a bit of a distance, coming off rather crisp as well. The snares have a tightness that gives off a higher pitched emptiness when hit, but also ends up with a slight echo that suits the atmosphere perfectly, and then there’s the bass kicks which are a subtle click, but one that you can easily feel through the mix, especially with a good subwoofer audio system. Much like the cymbals and snares, the vocals are pushed behind the guitars a bit, and handled with more of a snarling rhasp. While a little out of the ordinary, it does help to make the dark environment feel a bit more desolate and sinister, though utilizing lower gutturals would have added some extra bite to the bass-heavy sound, which is something this album definitely can use.

While things may not be as heavy as you would like, all three songs manage to keep their ten minute plus lengths fresh most of the time from start to finish. This is most surprising during the closing track “It Came from the Bog.” The song has a very catchy rhythm to it that even the slower, soothing pace cannot hinder. For the first four minutes you will have an urge to bang your head along to the drumming, especially the dominant cymbals that are used a little more than on the previous two tracks. Around the end of that time length, there is even an extended bass-only passage that isn’t exactly a solo, but still sounds great and allows the listener to hear the power this instrument brings to the mix for the first time without it meshing with the electric guitar. Admittedly, by the ten minute mark, things do seem to be padded, which wouldn’t be that bad if the music were just a little deeper, thicker, or heavier in some way. Instead, things seem to lighten up a little bit largely due to the music not being as filled as it was earlier. It does, however, end with an audio sample from The Ren & Stimpy Show of Ren having a freak out that oddly suits the atmosphere the closing music perfectly to create a truly creepy atmosphere.

“Year Naught Doom” unfortunately has that lighter sound the end of “It Came from the Bog” carries, but overall does end up a bit more atmospheric. Some of the guitar work does incorporate an aquatic vibe to the music, which helps to push the desolation and even darkness a bit further in the song. These held chords really stand as the main driving point, and the under-utilization of vocals helps to enforce that environment well. While still a spirit crushing offering without the matching heaviness, it does offer more of a relaxing zen-like quality that is quite addicting. The closing feedback from the guitars bleeds into “Tell Your God to Ready for Blood.” Unfortunately this one doesn’t quite have as unique an environment as the others, but the slower pace is met well with some catchy material, especially in the chorus, and some passages that do focus more on the drums, as well as allowing the bass to go off into a solo that ends up a large pulsing mass, but a unique one that works with the sound. Much like with the other two songs, there is what seems to be padding, though limited more towards the end, leaving a good minute of additional music that didn’t really need to exist, but still isn’t that bad to kick back and unwind to.

Year Naught Doom is a solid Death/Doom Metal album, but it could have been a little better. Obviously the slower pace of the style entices those involved to work with longer tracks, but sometimes you can pick up on moderately enjoyable filler that does suffer a lot from the audio just not being heavy enough despite how crushing the bass is, as well as the deeper guitar distortion. But, overall, the three songs that make up this album really do put On Pain of Death‘s better intentions forward. There’s no doubt some refinement is still required, but for the group’s first official full-length recording, it’s still one that will find plenty of replay value past that initial first spin. Plus, how can you not respect a band that samples from The Ren & Stimpy Show while making it work in a genuinely creepy manner without taking it entirely out of context? If this is the kind of music you’re into, there’s no reason to not invest some time and money into Year Naught Doom.

01. Year Naught Doom – 11:26
02. Tell Your God to Ready for Blood – 13:15
03. It Came from the Bog – 17:42
Overall Score: 8/10
On Pain of Death (band)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Handshake Inc..