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Symmetry Of Our Plagued Existence

Cyclone Empire (2013)
Rating: 7/10

I was rather stunned to find out that these guys formed in 1992 and Symmetry Of Our Plagued Existence is in fact their debut opus. The country of Malta isn’t exactly known for its extreme metal, and while this quartet has been toiling away for many years they’ve somehow gained no reputation at all.

Doom metal is certainly popular at the moment, although much of the genre has been swamped by turgid quicksand riffs and slug-like motion. Victims Of Creation most certainly occupy that rather sludgy cesspit that tends to bore the pants off me. Thankfully however, these guys do stir their own cauldron, and aren’t afraid to inject a drop or two of oaken atmosphere alongside those down-tuned, almost flat-line guitars which come courtesy of Daniel Bartolo and AJ Burd.

Victims Of Creation are spearheaded by the gruesome growls of bassist Rex, who is most certainly of the Tyrannosaurus variety when it comes to guttural bellows. However, Rex is also a dab hand at mournful narration and even the occasional banshee wail which at times reminds me of Sanctuary / Nevermore vocalist Warrel Dane.

Like a lot of modern day doom albums, Symmetry Of Our Plagued Existence is long, clocking in at over an hour and yet it only boasts five tracks; four of these crawling in at over ten-minutes, with closer ‘Those Left Behind’ over 20 minutes!

Opener ‘Chapter XXIII’ broods like a coming storm; Rex’s vocals are merely a gnarled yowl amid the funereal guitar and sombre drums. There’s nothing upbeat about Victims Of Creation, their brand of doom embedded in the old school style of slow-motion drool. Fans of My Dying Bride will no doubt find something to savour in ‘Chapter XXIII’ with its atmospheric melancholy, and the same could also be said for the sullen whine of ‘Tree Of Iniquity’ although the sludgy riff is more akin to Bolt Thrower.

In my opinion, there’s something quite British about Victims Of Creation. Here’s a band who boast grit alongside the grey, because despite their lack of pace, there’s just enough here to part the storm clouds. ‘The Art Of Despair’ does take an age to shift its arse out of the mediocre; Rex’s bass is as guttural as his howl as the doomsters nod to early Katatonia, and even Solitude Aeternus, combining stark soundscapes with gothic interludes.

Elsewhere, we’re treated to the rather polished ‘The Glorious Deceit’, which unexpectedly throws us a clean vocal that is caressed by a delicate guitar. Admittedly Rex’s vocals here tend to struggle until he resorts back to those familiar snarls which are swept away by the morose structures.

The album’s most epic moment is the staggering 22-minute ‘Those Left Behind’. I was concerned that this number might bore me to tears, but the band has all their bases covered, from the old school Paradise Lost-style opening, the My Dying Bride moments of languor, and the occasional classic metal dynamic. Okay, so it’s a little self-indulgent and drawn out, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from these sort of modern doom acts, and there’s something rather eerie about the tune, although the several minutes of silence towards the end is pointless.

Victims Of Creation are more suited to that early 90s scene, and I hope they take that as a compliment. Symmetry Of Our Plagued Existence may have been a long time coming, but the least you can do is give it a spin, because it’s nowhere near as dull as some of the more popular releases doing the rounds at the moment.

Neil Arnold

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