Released: 2007, Metal Blade
Reviewer: J. Campbell
As has been widely reported, Middian was born of the ashes of the epic doom outfit Yob. Following a rhythm section exodus in 2006, frontman Mike Sheidt decided to forge on under a new moniker. AGE ETERNAL is the first product of this venture. With an album consisting of 5 tracks clocking in at roughly 58 minutes, one could assume that Middian is following the same crooked, plodding, Vicodin-addled path laid by Yob; but Scheidt and his cohorts have created something a bit more focused…and much more sinister.
This is not to imply that Middian is a major departure…that’s far from the case. But whereas Yob used sprawling spacescapes and warm sonic weight to flesh out their prominent stoner vibe, Middian utilizes glacial riffs to exude a sense of anguish and foreboding. This is traditional doom played with an abrasive funeral doom bent, complete with vocals that range from ghoulish, echo-soaked wails to torturous screams. Some sludgy, post-rock angularities sneak their way in as well, giving parts of the album a slight High On Fire vibe, minus the shred. But it’s at these times when AGE ETERNAL’s footing slips a bit; Middian is at their best when churning out straight-on, crushing doom tracks.
The paranoid dirges “Blood of Icons” and “Age Eternal” are sorrowful masterpieces, wrapped in a fiery-hot production that threatens to fry your speakers at any second. Loaded with emotional heft, these tracks are nearly flawless. Then “The Celebrant” brings about the aforementioned rock-isms, but unfortunately, fails to impress. The uptempo stomp tacked onto the back end of the song is sufficiently horn-raising, but it kills the molasses-like momentum. By this time, the album has already topped the 40 minute mark, and there’s just not that much energy left over for the last track: a bloated, self-indulgent jam session that basically amounts to a fifteen-minute throwaway.
All aside, AGE ETERNAL is a solid album, and a confident step in a (slightly) new direction. Middian will undoubtedly appeal to Yob’s installed base, despite the altered tone. The title track is a perfect display of their tremendous upside; hopefully this band has more of these oppressive monoliths up their collective sleeve. If I were a betting man…