Released: 2016, Solitude Productions
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Funeral doom is an extremity within an already extreme genre. When it’s good, it can be an almost spiritual experience. When it’s not so good, it can be tedious and tiresome. HEART WITH BREAD is the latest full length from Czech doomsters Quercus, and lies somewhere in between.
Owing a debt of gratitude to bands like Evoken and Thergothon (whose logo they appear to have, uh, borrowed), Quercus dole out slow moving, melody infused sonnets of death, though tinged with moments of atmospheric harmony. Giving HEART WITH BREAD a unique spin is the pipe organ being used as a common theme across the album. Not just as an accent piece, but as a primary instrument at the center of each song. It’s an interesting concept that helps provide additional depth to the music and gives it an earthy, medieval feel. The opening “A Canticle for the Pipe Organ” goes all out to set the tone for the album, with the guitars competing with classically inclined organ movements. The juxtaposition keeps your interest for a while, but at 22 minutes (almost a sitcom’s worth of doom) it’s a bit much to digest. And as the novelty begins to wear off across subsequent tracks, you begin to wonder what else the band has up their sleeve. “Bread and Locomotive” is a welcomed intermission, relying more on traditional song structure and less on the keys. Some more trade-offs like this could’ve made a good album great.
The inclusion of such an overwhelming instrument like a pipe organ in such a prominent role is a ballsy move, and you’ve got to give Quercus cool points for taking that kind of creative leap. HEART WITH BREAD is an intentionally challenging listen. There are some truly beautiful passages to be found, you’ve just got to be patient to find them.