Sweden’s doom trio Heavydeath are one busy band. Formed in 2013, they have released seven demos, one EP, and one full length. Considering that all their releases have been top notch, that’s quite an accomplishment. Neither technical nor progressive, they stick to meat and potatoes doom with a hint of death metal thrown in for good measure. Now with their second full length, Dark Phoenix Rising, the band continues on its path of monolithic heaviness.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the band’s past work, I was beside myself at this full-length, while follows closely on the heels of Eternal Sleepwalker. The best way to describe Heavydeath’s sound is like a cocktail of equal parts YOB, Ufomammut, and Sleep. Their music builds and simmers, with a volatile undercurrent ready to strike at any second. “Bow Down,” featured on the debut but heavier here, is a good example of Heavydeath’s slow-burning build of twisting and slow guitar chords climaxing with heavy riffs. The psychedelic tremolo chords that surface mid-way through add an expansive feel to an already massive track.
“The Ember of the End” tugs on the heartstrings through the sorrowful sounds of the opening riffs. As the song builds the vocals transition slowly from a funeral procession to the more aggressive tone that Niklas Rudolfsson is best known for. The arc of the song follows suit, gaining aggressive ground until the hum of feedback fades to nothing.
It’s increasingly hard to pick a favorite among the five offerings, but the title track hits me hardest where it counts. With a long build of thick, spiraling chords and crashing percussion the band strings out the anticipation. The wait is worth it as the payoff proves to be the heaviest part of the album. A slight channeling of Mike Scheidt in the vocals and a touch of Dopesmoker thick riffs, I’d say they’ve reached near perfection with this one.
The band uses several effects throughout which add additional heft — For example, the fret play in “Dead Trees” and the eerie moans in “Bow Down.” Then there’s the different vocal approaches that Niklas uses throughout to emphasize the emotion portrayed in each song, be it growls or singing or raspy yelling.
In listening to Dark Phoenix Rising it’s hard to believe only two years have passed since Heavydeath’s inception. Even harder to believe is the members have other projects they are involved with. My hope is they make Heavydeath a priority and continue belting out their brand of classic and heavy doom. Definitely take a few spins through this album.