Grieving Age - _Merely the Fleshless We and the Awed Obsequy_
(Solitude Productions, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
Grieving Age are from Saudi Arabia, so don't take them for granted, as it needs more balls than you might think, being a metal band in these regions of the world.

In addition, this album, comprising two CDs that span an hour and forty five minutes, is an ambitious effort, not only in the mere length of both the album and each of its tracks (the shortest track being over fifteen minutes long), but also in the band's lyrical content; poetic lyrics that could have been a subject for an advanced English lesson, even though I'm not so sure how much of the prose makes actual sense or whether those lyrics serve only for showing off the band's ability to muster some high quality, quasi-archaic English.

That aside, the music is solid and heavy; the vocals have that gritty, semi-hardcore-ish vibe to them, being often shouted and almost barked, and that in itself is a unique signature of the band, deciding not to offer another typical growling technique like many of their peers do. In addition, the instruments show the ability to shine and express the music well, while maintaining minimal and basic, with almost no keyboards or processing of the melodies.

The bass guitar is surprisingly present and strong, and the songs are well written and quite complex. There are many repetitive sections within each track, but these are done well and the riffs they express are good enough so as to not cause boredom or a sense of redundancy. The compositions are epic in their own primitive way and the production is gritty enough, but also with a sense of bombast.

The main sound of the album, in addition to the unique colour of the vocals, is something that I seldom hear in self-proclaimed doom/death metal bands, especially the ones that belong to the Solitude Production roster, and that is being a hybridization of the aforementioned hardcore, as well as sludge, into the doom-oriented (old-school-ish) death metal on display; sometimes harmonic, sometimes discordant, with a groovy edge to the compositions, Grieving Age enmesh everything into their atypical metallic sound and make the whole sound logical and in accordance.

The second disc, although it offers more of the same, does not falter in quality or songwriting ability, but indeed the band could have ended the album with only one disc and no one would have missed the second part of the album. Disc two may be a tad more upbeat and venture deeper into the old-school waters of the past, but other than that, it is redundant; a surplus, but a good one nonetheless.

Overall, _Merely the Fleshless We and the Awed Obsequy_ is an ambitious, even if slightly pretentious album of massive proportions and sound; its singularity lies within its unique, if monolithic sound and production, the vocal treatment, the wise integration of styles into one indivisible metallic embodiment and the dissonant, complex compositions that never lose their cold and ruthless grip of the audience.

I wholeheartedly recommend anyone to at least try this album for a couple of times before passing any judgement, for it contains many more merits than it may initially seem.


(article published 2/3/2014)

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