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Unlike several other countries, Norway’s contribution to the development of doom/death metal has been limited, but that did not mean that the country’s been without important figures. Bands like Theatre of Tragedy and Funeral have been influential without a doubt, yet I personally lean toward the lesser-known doom/death bands such as Black Lodge, Beyond Dawn and Syrach.
With doom/death metal, you can never know exactly what to expect and especially in the 90’s, nothing seemed too crazy for these kinds of bands. Syrach‘s guitar work resembles doom metal’s crushing intent and death metal’s vigor attitude and who wouldn’t be fond of that? It’s a great combination of things, with occasional faster riff swinging as if they originally belong to Candlemass; only to counter with mildly aggressive death metal-esque tremolos that take tracks into high gear a while later. It certainly makes Syrach stand out from the crowd, but if you need a quick point of reference; think of early Celestial Season with more riffs part of their arsenal, or Paradise Lost circa Shades of God, if only Greg Macintosh had some interest left in death metal at that point.
While riffs float and crash all over the place, you never know what to expect of Silent Seas, but it’s mostly a good ride. ‘Nor the Frail Perception’ introduces a wasteland of foreign landscapes, only to quickly launch into a frantic combo of gallops and gunfire tremolos… but it doesn’t end there. Rolv-Erik’s menacing growls are note-worthy; bringing to mind a young Aaron Stainthorpe. The morose violins and acoustic guitars attribute to the track’s flavor of nostalgic 90’s doom/death metal; something that could also be said about ‘Jaded Funeral’, which falls somewhere between the lonesome aura of dread of As the Flower Withers and the gothic flavor of Clouds. Yet, with guitars that function in an unpredictable manner, riffs almost feel more like a death metal-styled Candlemass than anything else. (‘As Years go By in) Silence’ is another worthy cut of deceiving doom/death metal. With sludgy riffs covered with dirt, the tune almost reaches Asphyx territories; albeit the violins and female vocals contribute to a subtle touch of gothic and indeed; it’s as great as it sounds on paper.
Now, Silent Seas is a relatively short record for this style and while this wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, it’s a bit of an inconsistent and incomplete sounding record. ‘Of Dragons Tears’ is the result of an either overambitious or unfocused writing process; where loose drums eventually turn into an aimless set of blastbeats, guitarists launch some sped-up grooves without any direction in mind and the whole thing becomes too vague for its own good. Not to forget those obnoxious female vocal lines at the end; it sounds as if these lines were improved at the last minute, even if they fortunately don’t last long. The outro sounds more like a piece of a track that Syrach didn’t care to turn into a proper song; with guitars plodding onward with no emotional intensity whatsoever. Quite a strange way to end album with, but so be it.
Obviously, Syrach keep things organized most of the time, so there’s not much to complain about. Silent Seas should certainly make you feel doomed and if you have no interest in such an experience, then why are you reading this in the first place?
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