Qaalm – Resilience & Despair
Reviewed: May 2022
Released: 2022, Trepanation Recordings
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There’s a slow burn, smoldering kind of sadness across Qaalm’s aptly titled RESILIENCE & DESPAIR that at times can feel like a cinder block resting on your chest while incapacitated. It’s absolutely stifling at times, and you’re powerless to do anything about it except hope for some kind of reprieve. Only that reprieve doesn’t come, and another cinder block is placed atop the previous one.
To categorize what Qaalm does as funeral doom or drone would be a disservice, as there’s a wealth of nuance and melody that provide balance to the sonic cinder blocks. But over the span of 4 songs and almost 70 minutes, the LA troupe forces you to face the depths of despair in its various forms. And with each track clocking in at almost 20 minutes, it’s probably more appropriate to call them “vignettes
rather than “songs” in their traditional format. Should you indulge the full 70 minutes of RESILIENCE & DESPAIR, you’ll hear everything from black metal dungeon reverberations, Crowbar worthy rhythms, crushingly dense resonance and simple melodies paired with traditional stringed instruments. And the fact that Qaalm somehow manage to make all of this work in a cohesive manner is truly respectable.
Full disclosure – there is absolutely work required on the listener’s part in order to properly experience RESILIENCE & DESPAIR; this isn’t an album to experience passively. You really need to commit yourself he full procession – put your tablet away, turn down the lights, turn up the stereo, and allow each note to properly ooze through your speakers and Qaalm intended. It’s a stunning record that leaves you truly feeling resilient after enduring wave after wave of despair. Listen (and enjoy) at your own peril.