The anticipation has finally ended. Litany, the sophomore release from Dead to a Dying World, is upon us. It’s been almost four and a half years since the self-titled debut from the Dallas-based doom metallers was released. A significant amount of time to follow a debut, but a period of time well utilized and well worth the wait once you dive into the record’s contents. In the most complicated of journeys, Dead to a Dying World have created a memorable wall of sound and emotion.
Depressing and beautiful, Litany is a six song collection that features a variety of black metal and doom metal influences, creating a truly expansive sound. But at an hour and 13 minutes, the seven musicians that comprise Dead to a Dying World have not created something for the weak-minded. Litany meanders through a variety of forms, sometimes simultaneously, over the course of this excursion. Conceived around the flaws in humanity and the desperation of our existence, it will serve as a reality check for many, and a glimmer of hope for some.
And it doesn’t take long for “The Hunt Eternal” to elevate and cascade down in wave after endless wave of power. As the echoing blast rhythms, tremolo leads, and melodic undertones surround the diverse vocals performances of Heidi Moore and Mike Yeager, the opening 17 minute track quickly drives its audience to their knees in pain. And it’s apparent that this is done almost in preparation for everything ahead. But with tracks as long as these are, the sound is sure to sway from these moments of ferocity to calmer rides of solitude. For example, the middle stages of this opener come to a near dead stop, where the ambiance of Heidi’s vocals takes over and the sound becomes very distant, resonating peace.
Each song is its own exploration of sound and energy, meaning the influence on an audience is rarely identical. “Eventide”, for instance, slowly builds in a way that causes discomfort knowing the inevitable storm on the horizon. Eventually, messages are barked in agony and each accompanying note is pummeling in weight, where a wandering viola serves as the only message of hope. This deliberation introduces a new, and more burdensome, feeling. But the very next track, “Beneath the Loam”, which builds in a similar manner, takes on a message of triumph in the rhythmic percussion that carries the elevation of the sound. Comparable structure, but a very different impact through its epic rise. Finally, “Narcissus”, the final track, concludes everything with perfection. It rises and falls in cascading waves of black metal energy and atmosphere. Explosive displays of defiance are placed between moments of peace, almost becoming a back and forth struggle with acceptance. Eventually, the sound settles, and we succumb to the reality that we were introduced to in the beginning.
Throughout, Dead to a Dying World offers a wide range black and doom metal influences, all tied together with a melodic ambiance that creates a unique environment. However, these complexities also mean Litany takes time and patience to develop. Fortunately, with four tracks covering over 14 minutes each, there are two intervals, “Cicatrix” and “Sick & Sunder”, that split up this listen brilliantly. While they are shorter and feature limited aggression, they are every bit as mournful as the rest of the album, except with a less complex message musically and verbally. Simply, they allow for time of reflection, something much appreciated within the darkened chaos. In turn, it’s the ideal architecture relative to Litany’s ambitions.
For as sorrowful as Litany is, it is also fascinatingly calming in its stance on reality. From the very beginning, it’s an album that pulls a listener in and simply never let’s go, forcing them to embrace the atmosphere they have created. Without any doubt, Dead to a Dying World have created an album that will capture the attention of many and remain in their periphery for years to come. An impressive piece, and one that has been well worth the wait.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”