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Skepticism - Alloy
Review: Like ocean swells at storm, the dirges of Skepticism rise as layers fall away and descending, accumulate contrary currents into a morass of vectors harmonized around the inevitable sine wave of their inverted curls, plunging but never depleting their energy as from scattered eddies a pulse rises again, recrystallizing the different currents into a new shape. Hinting at the origins of metal in competing with church music and finding inspiration in the theatrical soundtracks of horror movies, these songs collage glacial guitar chords with organ and lightly adroit lead rhythm melodies, using repetition to create prismatic sigils of poetic meaning assembled in the brain of the listener.
Moaning, deconstructed, and basso rasping vocals comment from a distracted rhythm while guitars lead with chords strummed in cadence or strung in melodic sequences, creating a dark mood that surges into rhythm changes, emanating a sense of cycles augmenting themselves in the purest Pagan definition of process, smashing any sense of progress into a primordial wilderness of emotions unleashed against one another. Protean melodies slip between the chokepoints created within them by incompatibilities between riffs, permuting to insert a demi-synthesis and rise above yet again; momentum builds before slowness can inundate itself, separating the dirge ballads of Skepticism from the droning linear cyclic repetition that is popular among less considered doom bands.
Often three melodies are at work at once, as keyboards pluck notes from the thunderous backwash of distorted guitar, while another guitar nimbly interlaces a lead melody through the harmonic space created like fish jumping through a waterfall, each changing in sequence so that as the song rotates between its elements added in staggered order to produce layers a new direction emerges from the collision of past forays. Diversity of riffing remains high, with walking pace doom riffs and black metal stall-rushing modal stripes rubbing against updated versions of the bounding motives of English sea shanties. They meld together into a voice through the interplay between layers that reinterprets the overall direction so that it can rise again out of itself. Sporadically an offhand guitar comments, then slides into noise for the pure texture of timbre, trailing off.
Easily some of the best work from Skepticism, this album maintains the intense mood of their first but adds to it the fascination with emergent complexity in simple pieces that marked later works, but here a more facile sense of songwriting centered on constructing a tunnel of symbols into which the listener relaxes disbelief and then finds the path turning as it evolves, eschewing the progressive linear for the dynamic dimensionality of an eternal churning of creation and destruction like a cycle of breathing. While both downsides of doom -- melancholy melody and repetition -- are present, they are bent in service to a vision of beauty forming from chaos that destroys the archaic before it, in order to rebirth a force as old as the universe in a new incarnation, reawakening the world to its potential through a majestic seriousness feared by the facile evasion of modern minds.