Funeral doom is a particular sub-genre of metal that can prove particularly daunting and practically inaccessible to the ill-prepared metalhead, with a poorly executed record becoming nothing but an exhaustive burden and a slog to get through. Fortunately, Finland’s Convocation have delivered a veritable funeral doom meets death/doom masterclass in Scars Across, creating an engaging and engrossing murky slugfest which avoids any and all potential pitfalls!
Scars Across touts just four songs but clocks in at over 50 minutes. Hefty stuff, but each song is finely crafted, featuring layer upon layer of both heavy and subtle elements. And, while we’re treated to a handful of tremelo riffs for a touch of slimy blackened death influence, it’s sluggish tempos, droning chords and expertly-placed atmospheric breaks which are in abundance here, making Scars Across an undeniably doomy affair.
Slow and swelling leads call to mind Opeth‘s glory years, as layers of gorgeous instrumentation pull you to the edge of your seat just in time for a mammoth riff to slam you back into the wall (check out “Disposed” at the 12-minute mark). These familiar elements make this monster a welcome guest in our earholes, but it’s the unexpected that makes Scars Across such a blast.
Featuring just enough repetition to hook you in but enough experimentation to keep you leagues away from boredom – a delicate balance for music like this – it’s the intricacies and overall performances found on Scars Across which leave the deepest cuts.
In particular, vocalist ‘MN ‘utilizes a tremendous death roar for the majority of the album but his range is ridiculous. His high-pitched shrieks sound like some type of banshee from hell, while minimal use of whispers and spoken-word keep you on edge throughout. His clean singing is multi-layered too, resulting in a creepy Uncle Acid-style of harmonization that contrasts so damn well with Convocation’s heavy guitars.
Scars Across is also mixed to perfection. For the most part, nothing overpowers anything else but, on occasion, the guitars will drift above the mire for a particularly crushing riff, or organs will float up for a touch of madness amid the maelstrom. A somber piano intro and use of orchestral arrangements later in the album also imbues an epic vibe, adding yet another layer to an already complex album. Frankly, there’s a lot going on in these four tracks, but none even approaches ‘filler’ or could be deemed unnecessary….such is the level of artistry on display. You can judge this particular book by its cover as well, because the art is excellent, too!
Convocation’s Scars Across is a must-hear for fans of the massively slow and monstrously heavy. 9/10