Pierre Laube, the lynchpin of Germanic Death Metal project Doomed appears to be something of an extreme metal Trent Reznor – taking responsibility for much of what you hear on the album Wrath Monolith – while aided by a cohort of guest players. While the cheesy album title doesn’t tell you otherwise, the six lengthy pieces therein are about as far removed from straight up Death and Doom Metal as you can get. The passion that went into this recording is blindingly obvious right from the portent piano motif that kicks off “Paradoxon”. Heaviness is coming, it doesn’t take a genius to work that out, but when it drops it is very different to what we were expecting.
The most striking thing about Wrath Monolith is that at no point does it sound particularly like Metal in the traditional sense. Sure, the crawling riffs are played on detuned, palm muted guitars, there are growled and screamed vocals and crashing cymbals over double bass drum workouts but these are almost a footnote beneath the elegant musical themes that seamlessly come and go. The melodies have a chiming quality that resound cleanly over the grind and when lead guitar cuts in, it is to further the whimsically funereal ambience, rather than to show off technical skill. There is nothing here so uncivilised as excessive speed, sludge or pointless blast beats. Heaviness and brutality are two separate things and Doomed deliver loads of the former and virtually none of the latter without coming out of character even once. As a result everything is immediately comprehensible to the listener; we dare say, even a career Metal-sceptic would be able to appreciate the musicality here.
The key to Wrath Monolith’s appeal is surely it’s adventurousness. Laube sounds a lot like a musician for whom guitar isn’t his first instrument and the fantastic keyboards and programming give Wrath Monolith a uniquely evocative atmosphere. Check out the chime bells on “Euphoria’s End”, the Rush-style proggy tinges on “Looking Back” and the gentile piano on the closing track. It all feels a lot like a film score. Perhaps something that David Lynch might have commissioned in the early nineties!
Up and coming bands will often go to great pains to both cite and attempt to outdo their influences but this type of thing is way beneath Doomed. They don’t waste time letting you know that they have a bedroom full of Venom and Slayer vinyl, they simply paint pictures of pretty, gloomy landscapes and leave it at that. Okay, so Wrath Monolith isn’t perfect. In fact, there are moments where it feels a little too stately and ponderous but we can’t tell you enough how much this album impressed us with its skill, its balls and it’s sheer willingness to be different.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already have an interest in supporting small label bands and Heavy Metal as an art form as well an arena filling big night out. If that’s the case, you owe it to yourself to check out someone who takes as much pride in his work as Pierre Laube does. 8/10