Reviewed: April 2021
Released: 2021, Petrichor
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
One of the most striking things about Grief Collector and their debut full-length En Delirium is that the vocals will sound immediately familiar to fellow doom aficionados, as it’s none other than Robert Lowe, mournful maestro and former frontman of both Solitude Aerturnus and Candlemass (2006-2012). Grief Collector is a relatively new project, with Rob himself joining a couple of years after their inception. So, how does it hold up?
Well, it certainly isn’t pushing Mr. Lowe or his bandmates (who also have a history among doom/sludge bands) into bold new territory. Grief Collector is every bit as doomy as the name implies, and seem unashamedly traditional in their approach. This isn’t funeral doom, progressive, avant-garde, atmospheric, or really any other genre sub-division you can think of. It’s doom god-damned metal, loud and proud. En Delirium is an album that doesn’t need organs, symphonics or any other exotic additions to get its point across. It makes do perfectly well with nothing but crushing riffs, gloomy melodies and ominous, pounding drums, producing darkly catchy and abyssal doom with just the classic ingredients. Maybe the odd tolling bell, but who could begrudge them that?
All of which isn’t to say those other elements or styles are bad, but if you’re looking for something old-school in approach, this will likely be just the ticket.
Rob’s huge vocal chops are well-known and certainly aren’t held back here, adding just as much force to it all as the meaty instrumentation. Much like the best of their doom luminaries (doominaries?), Grief Collector keeps a steady weight behind everything, settling into steady, dark grooves but also happy (if such a word applies to such sorrowful music) to change gears here and there to spice things up. “When Sanity Eludes Me” busts out a march to battle in the middle like it’s nothing at all, “Scorned Hearth” has fun with an almost folk-y melody before positively erupting into its solo section, while “Corridors” cranks up the pace a bit and throws in some nastier touches.
The only real negative of note here is that the music can feel a bit too safe and comfortable at times. It’s decent enough doom, and certainly there’s nothing wrong with doing things in a straightforward manner, but if that’s the approach, it could maybe do with a few more stand-out bangers to really carry the album itself home properly.