Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth (1993)

In addition to its notoriously contradictive definitional nature, doom metal remains something of an enigma in terms of its enduring popularity. Whether or not one chooses to view it as a distinctive subgenre, style or even technique, doom metal must bear one of the most in-proportionate quotas within metal music when it comes to quantity over quality.  If attempting to depict doom metal from the perspective of enduring releases, the list of canonical works would become surprisingly short.  It seems plausible that part of the explanation to this sad state is embedded in the very characteristics of the style.  Doom bands have generally prioritized development of exceptionally powerful tools for conveying sonic heaviness at the expense of other aspects of the music. It might even be so that the techniques in themselves has forced artists into a particular way of writing music. Either way, there appears to be a widespread discrepancy between the means of expression and what is actually being expressed in doom metal; which in turn provides clues as to what makes for a genuinely satisfying doom-offering. With the above discussion in mind, today’s written offering presents the Australian death/doom act Paramaecium – one of few bands bearing the doom-tag that has managed to write compositions to match the sonic gravitas associated with said style.

Despite emerging in the immediate wake of the early 1990s doom metal bonanza  Paramaecium has remained relatively unknown outside of dedicated circles.  When lauded, critics tend to focus on less-relevant novelties such as the band’s endorsement of Christianity or their incorporation of musical elements normally foreign to metal (female soprano vocals, flutes and violins).  While these elements have become distinctive markers of the band’s style subsequently developed over the course of several albums, they are hardly unique and too much focus on them draws attention away from the fundamental strength of the compositions present on Paramaecium’s debut album Exhumed of the Earth.

Presumably influenced by the first wave of UK death/doom, Paramaecium started out as a straight-out primitive death metal outfit on the 1991 demo Silent Carnage but underwent a significant transformation leading up to the release of Exhumed of the Earth.  Stylistically, the album can be described as archetypal death/doom in the sense that it blends traditional (heavy metal-based) doom metal elements with death metal of the oldest school.  Many of the main riffs – consisting primarily of sequenced power chords or single-note lines – resembles that of bands like Black Sabbath and Candlemass in terms of melodic contour (angular figures constructed around minor/modal tonalities with a strong emphasis of tritones and flat 2nds), if performed in a manner technically closer to old school death metal played at a slow tempo (complete with chromatic bridgings and selective palm-muting).  Another point of reference might be Samael’s Blood Ritual, which utilizes similar techniques and musical vocabulary, albeit in a different context.

The production is of the genuinely organic character that bands of today do their best to emulate.  Guitars are tuned exceptionally low (B-flat) and the band used very thick strings and a well-tweaked setup to make it work. Basic instrumentation consists of two guitars, bass, drums and double-tracked vocals; with the guitars taking the center stage as expected. While some might describe the sound as “murky”, the music embodies an elegant simplicity that makes for a clear statement. The guitars tend to stick close together, moving either in unison or in parallel harmony with the occasional harmonized lead or accentuated pinch-harmonics. A strong sense of monumentalism permeates much of the material, chiefly achieved through a stripped-down but far from careless approach.

If judged solely on the merits of its “sound”, Exhumed of the Earth would surely qualify according to doom metal standards.  However, while most doom metal begins and ends with an emphasis on textural elements, this album rises above the morass to deliver actual songs to accompany the heaviness.  Working in the grand but oft-slandered tradition of narrative-driven concept albums first promulgated by 1970s progressive rock bands, Exhumed of the Earth resembles a nineteenth-century song-cycle in the sense that the separate tracks form a cohesive whole held together by a story line.  The merging of death and doom elements observed on a riff-level is mirrored in song structures as well.  In typical doom-fashion, each riff is thoroughly explored both texturally and melodically for maximum effect.  But whereas doom bands tend to spiral into droning stupor, Paramaecium ties together riffs more like an epic death metal band; forming sequential repetitions with meticulous attention given to internal variation and dynamics all the way down to the level of individual intervals.  Of particular note here is the band’s active use of pacing in relation to thematic development – a severely underrated technique in doom metal. Each theme – embodied in the form of main riffs – is properly introduced, “worked-out” and juxtaposed to form an engaging narrative.

Arguably one of the most accomplished and well-balanced amalgamations of doom and death metal elements to date, Exhumed of the Earth remains relevant 30 years after its initial release.

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21 thoughts on “Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth (1993)”

  1. Liah Natas says:

    Powerful and interestimg music, just shame it cannot be regarded as metal and uses such style as a conduit for spreading message/agenda instead of making metal for metal sake.

    1. olmnagviz says:

      So it’s interesting and powerful music but lost points for not fitting the typical ‘metal as degenerate lifestyle’ shtick. What the hell kind of logic is this?

      1. The Gods Rejoice For Every Cannibalized Missionary says:

        Christians are perfect beings that can do no wrong. There are no pedophile priests, no fornicating nuns, no degenerate behavior among the children of Christ. Hallelujah!

        1. olmnagviz says:

          Alright so butthurt over christianity basically. Well cool because that’s most drunkard metal losers anyway. So what now about the actual music? Just imagine for a minute that they instead worship Satan and are prozak-approved. Hilarious how no one get can far enough past the exterior to deal with this.

    2. Frederick Dinkledick says:

      hi. you’re autistic. thanks!

    3. trystero says:

      Metal is not intrinsically anti-Christian, that is just silly. Propagandistic bands tend to be shit because they have an agenda that comes before the music. Genuine Christian themes can be espoused by Romantic classical music but not metal music why exactly?

  2. Trashchunk says:

    These guys, Trouble, Candlemass, so many fucking Christians playing doom. Good music however.

    1. Decrepit says:

      Never heard Candlemass being claimed as a Christian band before.

      1. Mastodon Guy says:

        I’ve heard it before. I love this album, too. Paramaecium are great!!

      2. Frederick Dinkledick says:

        Candlemass are kind of like Black Sabbath where they can’t exactly be called a Christian band but they have songs which are unabashedly Christian. See Samarithan or Well of Souls from their second album.

    2. olmnagviz says:

      How is christianity inherently bad?

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Marxism is wonderful. The trouble starts once the Marxists get their hands on it.

        Random example: ‘Love’ is a central concept in Christianity. But unfortunately, newer languages don’t differentiate between eros and agape, they just use ‘love’ for both. Historically, the church has been somewhat ‘not sex-obsessed’ in a way people are often uncomfortable with.

        Brilliant workaround: Redefine the Christian ‘love’ as referring to ‘two people habitually having sex with each other’ (and only now and then with others). Fast forward about 1000 years and a “counter-culture revolution” (this should be literally understood as “with the intent to abolish culture”) and we arrive at the present ‘string-of-upper-case-letters-excluding-h’ misery as THE fundamentally defining property of supposedly intelligent beings.

    3. chad says:

      You forgot Black Sabbath. Trouble sucks nigger cock btw.

  3. Glibert V says:

    great album had it in kct and I changed it in 1995 for the “tomb of mutilated” in cd, it had a religious aspect that is currently considered a cult piece, its sound is really very doom, today there are many imitations of that sound

  4. Rainer Weikusat says:

    The problem with this kind of music is that it’s made by stoners and for stoners. I’d certainly like this if I was baked. However, I’m not, and I like the kind of music in this state better. There’s even music which is seriously difficult to appreciate unless entirely sober as the details ‘mud-out’ otherwise, eg

    That’s a pretty calm track, too. But it’s not constructed based on repetition until the other guys passes the bong over again. Neither Black Sabbath nor Candlemass were like this.

    To whomever it may concern: Try pulling your head out of the US universityverse. It really helps. Or stop complaining that all you see looks like it does.

    1. Rainer Weikusat says:

      I like the kind of music in this state better

      There’s an “I like” missing between music and in.

    2. olmnagviz says:

      No, it’s proper doom metal I’d say. Not stoner doom or whatever

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        I’m not going to argue about “proper labelling” as there’s IMHO too much time wasted with this already.

        This here is better than the last one which was basically a sea of directionless, low buzzing with isolated music splinters dancing here and there on the waves. But it’s still the same kind of music: This is almost void of any directed movement, something like large reptiles slowly regaining mobility (and not much of it) at dawn would come to mind. Or maybe the last motions of a dying beetle trapped in resin. The phrases are too similar and drawn out for too long. And too many ostinato fade-outs.

        There are other differences: Jumping to a random part of

        (I don’t really know anything else, pupils were poor in the 1980s, I think I borrowed a cassette copy of that once and couldn’t even copy it myself), one can immediately notice a change in drumming: Percussion accentuates the rhythm of the tracks. I’ve called this a fundamental different betweeen metal and rock in the past and I stand by that: Candlemass has power because the instruments work towards a common goal. For most of the Paramaecium album (most of the 20 odd minutes I listened to), the drumming is just colouring of the guitar sound space. Because of this, it’s much more static. People might want to call this »contemplative« instead but if they do, they’re probably stoned (or sedentary for some other reason).

        I have to abort this here because I urgently need to do something else than sedentarily sitting at a computer and listening to music.

  5. Charles Stuart says:

    I’ve never heard this before. Quite a good listen, although the clean guitar ‘arise from the dead’ part was embarrassing as all hell. I can certainly hear the Black Sabbath influence… there were also a lot of part that made me think of early Asphyx.

  6. Dannyboy says:

    This is lit!

  7. blackmetalkid says:

    The new age will declare that the secularized facets of Christianity are sentimentalities. This declaration will clear the air. The world to come will be filled with animosity and danger, but it will be a world open and clean…. As unbelievers deny Revelation more decisively, as they put their denial into more consistent practice, it will become the more evident what it really means to be a Christian. At the same time, the unbeliever will emerge from the fogs of secularism. He will cease to reap benefit from the values and forces developed by the very Revelation he denies. He must learn to exist honestly without Christ and without the God revealed through Him; he will have to learn to experience what this honesty means. Nietzsche has already warned us that the non-Christian of the modern world had no realization of what it truly meant to be without Christ. The last decades have suggested what life without Christ really is. The last decades were only the beginning. – Romano Guardini

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