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In Aloof Lantern, Thy Bequeathed A Wailer Quietus
Released: 2009, Unsigned
Grieving Age is a band with the unique distinction of being the first metal band from Saudi Arabia that I have ever heard. Formed in 2003 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Grieving Age is yet another example of the burgeoning metal scene evolving in the Middle East, as evidenced by Mark Levine’s excellent book Heavy Metal Islam and the documentary Heavy Metal Baghdad. The band was founded by vocalist Ahmed Shawli and guitarist Ghassan Fudail and gradually they developed into a six-piece band with two guitarists and a keyboardist to round out the vocals and bass. After a live rehearsal demo in 2005 received positive reviews, the band recorded the full length album IN ALOOF LANTERN, THY BEQUEATHED A WAILER QUIETUS in 2009. The band quickly displayed a penchant for decisive and wise decisions by enlisting Swedish metal stalwart Dan Swano to handle the mixing and artwork from none other than My Dying Bride vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe.
IN ALOOF LANTERN… is doom metal musically, and death metal in its vocal deliveries. Consisting of two tracks that clock in at a total of 36 minutes, the tempos vary from glacially paced for most of the opening track to a mid-paced thrash on parts of the second track. What emerges is a dirge-like trek through depressing, repetitive, and ultimately boring territory on the 20 minute opening track “A Quadrennial Dame Pyres, Hearses Shall No Yawn, Thence” and 16 minutes of the equally bizarre title “Therefore, a Myriad of Gargoyles Bellow Their Aborted Versicles, Quoth Thee…”.
The positive aspects of the album are the bright and heavy production, the My Dying Bride-like guitar work (minus the many harmonies), and a definite commitment to heaviness. However, there are several potentially fatal flaws here. The primary one, and a chief complaint of many of my fellow metal critics, has been Ahmed’s vocals, which contain little variety, not much originality, and a brutality that perhaps sounds forced and out of place. The songs suffer much the same fate, with no solos and little variety that seems to go on forever. It is all power chords and the drums are stuck in some king of slow motion zone which makes for a difficult and tiring listen. The lyrics are predictably unintelligible and that is a good thing. Clearly, the band has spent too much time consulting dictionaries and thesauruses while channeling their inner Shakespeare. The results lead to amusing and baffling sequences of lyrics, such as “The drapery won’t ascend till your Angel’s attend; a plebian anarchic quartet feeds my aristocrat’s suavity!” Yeah, sure.
Here is the verdict. This is for die-hard doom metal completists. I am impressed that the band has delivered a sonically professional product and heartened that metal is spreading to areas of the world that have traditionally been censured and repressed. However, this band needs a lot of work in the vocal area and in varying the tempos and sounds of the songs. A great metal album needs more than conviction and the novelty of being from a far different country than most metal albums; it needs good songs and Grieving Age’s songs are not quite there yet.
1. A Quadrennial Dame Pyres, Hearses Shall No Yawn, Thence...
2. Therefore, A Myriad of Gargoyles Bellow Their Aborted Versicles, Quoth Thee...
Ahmed Shawli - Vocals
Ghassan Fudail - Guitar
Diya Azzoni - Guitar
Hosam Tammar - Bass
Abdullah Sabab - Session Guitar, Keyboards
Emad Mujalled – Drums
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