Many bands claim to fall under the Doom Metal genre, however, few can comprehend its essence, and even less manage to capture it with their music. There are more things in Doom Metal than the slow riffs and the gloomy atmosphere, and GRIEF COLLECTOR from Minneapolis, Minnesota, seem to know this well. Formed by Brad Miller and Matt Johnson, and joined by Robert Lowe (TYRANT, SOLITUDE AETURNUS), the trio released its debut album, “From Dissension To Avowal”, a few weeks ago, thus contributing to the line of doom metal albums that have seen the light of day so far [in 2019].
It’s clear from the very first, slightly distorted guitar riffs that the opening song, “Eyes Of Fog”, holds many references to CANDLEMASS‘ recent works. However, this one goes on to explore the more traditional side of doom metal. “Consuming Indignation” is probably the song that’s closest to the traditional sound of doom metal, as it starts with some beefy, staccato guitar riffs that grow into a groovy SABBATH-like mashup kind of song. Lowe’s vocals sit very nicely on top of this one, making it stand out from the majority of similar tunes that – let’s face it – have oversaturated the genre. The rest of the album goes on with songs that stand somewhere between TROUBLE and more “modern” bands (like VOID OF SILENCE) regarding style, with “A Mournful Pact” and “Of Misery and Woe” being the highlights that reveal the true potential of this band. Just to give you a hint, pay attention to the verse and bridge of “A Mournful Pact”, and the progression and vocal arrangements in “Of Misery and Woe”. It’s a shame this album ended up being only five songs long and not holding more songs like these.
In general, song structures deviate from the norm that wants the majority of doom metal bands to be predictable as hell. The band has managed to create a rather interesting soundscape of riffs, melodies and texture, which is the very first step for developing a signature sound. As expected, most of the album is dominated by heavy ‘n’ slow guitar riffs which are backed by a thrifty, solid rhythm section. Guitar solos remain within the safety of the pentatonic scale, and despite them being a good fit for this kind of music, I can’t really say they stand out or “tell a story”, as some people like to say.
When it comes to vocals, I always believed that having someone like Robert Lowe to man the mic would bring out the best of your music. With years of experience under his belt, this living legend of Doom Metal delivers a solid performance that features all the signature traits of his voice: texture, resonance, and articulation. Everything is there. For the most part, vocals register within the low/mid-range spectrum with some high-pitched outbursts throughout the album which add a bit of variety. As for the singing style, that is close to the style that Lowe has been into for the past decade or so, so don’t expect any big surprises there.
Overall, and in terms of aesthetics, this album reminded me a lot of SOLITUDE AETURNUS‘s “Adagio”, but it felt more raw and unpolished. This works for the concept the band is trying to deliver, but to be honest, I got to experience it more through the lyrics than the actual music. I’d say that “From Dissension To Avowal” is one of these “introvert” type of albums that won’t make your head explode, nor comes at you with a bunch of hooks and catchy choruses. However, it does come with some particular qualities – that outweigh a few weaknesses – that distinguish it from the masses and, hopefully, help it withstand the test of time.
This is a great first step and I’m totally in for a sophomore, more delicate and lengthier album from these guys. Doom on.