“Love From With The Dead”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Lee Dorrian promised that the second With The Dead record would be even heavier, bleaker and more monolithic than the first. He has made good on his promise with this rather sardonically named sophomore release for the glum British doom squad. This record is so dark and crushing that it would make The Flying Nun suicidal.

I wonder, though, if that is the best thing for this band. Surely there is no further they can go in this direction without becoming completely unlistenable. With The Dead is not Dorrian’s old band Cathedral, to be certain, but Cathedral had a lot larger and more experimental sound palette than WTD. Is it really a good idea to remove all traces of a lighter or more variable sound from your band? I am hoping With The Dead have not painted themselves into a corner.

However, there’s no denying the blunt bulldozing force of this record. Songs like “Isolation”, “ Reincarnation of Yesterday” and the cyclopean 17 minute plus soul flattener “CV1” are brutal slow examples of basic doom riffing that is the musical equivalent of being trapped in a tar pit. The guitar sound is just merciless. “Egyptian Tomb” kind of disappointed me because it didn’t really sound Egyptian enough….I was expecting something more Middle Eastern sounding. The ghosts of Cathedral’s rocking past appear in “Cocaine Phantoms” which has a bit more groove than the other tunes while retaining WTD’s general gloom. “Anemia” is thick and heavy but might have passed for an old Cathedral tune. The real oddity is the 10 minute plus “Watching the Ward Go By”, which is low key and almost ambient for half of its length before finally giving way to a miserable crawling riff. The album is topped off by that monstrous “CV1”, which ends in nigh unendurable sonic caterwauling and frequency damage. I can’t imagine there’s anywhere doomier and more monolithic than this for the band to go.

Immensely heavy, this is one of the most crushing doom albums of the year. I wonder how the upcoming Primitive Man will stack up against it?