Album Review: Inverloch – “Distance | Collapsed”

inverloch distance collapsed
Cover art by Orion Landau.

There is no band on earth, since the early 90s, that has had a more profound effect on doom metal (particularly the funeral doom sub-genre) than dISEMBOWELMENT. It follows that their bassist, Matt Skarajew, who carried onward, would be one of the single most influential mind when it comes to doom. Skarajew’s work for Inverloch reveals a patient composer with chops that are only outshined by his brilliant, subtle ear for melody. Not to be outdone, Paul Mazziotta, also of dISEMBOWELMENT, always provides a clinical performance on the drum kit. Inverloch produce an absolutely timeless, beautifully woven funeral shrowd on Distance | Collapsed. It’s a work that can happily spin on an endless loop.

Inverloch was born out of the ashes of d.USK which, as the format of the name suggests, was the post dISEMBOWELMENT creation of Skarajew (wherein he switched from bass guitar to actual guitar) that performed both new material and dISEMBOWELMENT’s Transcendence Into the Peripheral. There is really no distinction between d.USK and Inverloch aside from the fact that the Aussies have never released any material as d.USK. To date Inverloch has released only one EP, Dusk | Subside. That work is a three track monster nearing twenty-two minutes. It was raw, harkening back to their days in dISEMBOWELMENT. Further, Dusk | Subside is a less advanced, when compared with Distance | Collapsed, work as far as guitar work is concerned. But more on that in a minute.

Here is where the heavy metal heresy begins. Released only a few months apart, Dusk | Subside and Evoken’s Atra Mors are potentially the defining works of funeral doom in the last five years (along with Indesinence’s farewell masterpiece III). But, while Renato Gallina may remain the founder of the genre, and the go-to when it comes to doom guitar work (potentially nearly equal with Mikko Ruotsalainen of Thergothon and Jani Kekarainen of Skepticism) it’s Chris Molinari of Evoken that slightly altered, and helped perfect the genre, and from where Skarajew’s derives much of his style. On Distance | Collapsed Skarajew has slightly altered his playing style (from his d.USK era copy of Renato Gallina) to compliment the superior production. Generally, he’s less spastic with Inverloch than Renato was in the 90s but, in 2016 he has revealed a softer side and an ear for chorus and reverb laden melody that mimics the sound of Molinari on Atra Mors.

This is, in no way, a take down of Skarajew (or Renato Gallina wherever he may be nowadays). Renato remains the pinnacle of doom and the guy behind the guy when it comes to the genre. And Skarajew is not very far off with his playing. And yes, it’s likely that Molinari of Evoken was influenced heavily by Renato and, perhaps, Skarajew. But much like Charlie Parker coming along and making the more established players like Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins better, the infusion of Molinari’s mournful melodies (that mimic Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden more than generic funeral doom) have clearly had an influence on Skarajew’s playing.

Distance | Collapsed is a monumental work of doom. Much like dISEMBOWELMENT, Inverloch doesn’t keep the pacing confined to a snail’s pace. There is plenty of upswitch on the rhythms including some blast beats and, on the longest track “The Empyrean Torment,” a bit of rolling double bass combined with chaotic cymbal crashing. By remaining unconfined to a singular pacing, Inverloch is able to accentuate the longing in their slower, more drawn out sections. For example, “From the Eventide Pool,” which provides an opening heaped with atmosphere and guitars dripping with chorus, is able to explode into the following track “Lucid Delirium” as it opens with blastbeats and then falls into a straight ahead rhythm accented with double bass rolls.

Inverloch band photo
Photography by Doug Donaldson.

Whereas Inverloch’s prior work was chaotic and disorganized, songs like the aforementioned “Lucid Delirium” reveal just how much the band has progressed. The guitars constantly pick while the drums blast and the vocals descend to almost reptilian depths. But the track isn’t that of “Within Frozen Beauty” off Dusk | Subside. Rather, Inverloch are now able to meld the faster and slower styles while maintaining a doom-esque feel. Funeral doom becomes a feeling and ambiance rather than a category easily defined by its parts.

The closing track, “Cataclysm of Lacuna” is perhaps the most pragmatic and mournful. Much like “From the Eventide Pool” the track maintains a didactic crawl. There isn’t much by way of climax or explosion. But the guitars gently rock back and forth on a sorrowful, melodic pattern that is positively sublime. The pacing, melody and gentle release are something akin to ingesting copious amounts of heroin in the midst of an opium filled den. Despite the hideousness of the vocals, “Cataclysm of Lacuna,” with its ever so slow and subtle fade out, is a beautiful track that tugs at the heart strings of the listener.

It’s clear that, despite the departure of Renato Gallina, the dISEMBOWELMENT crew has not lost their throne as kings in the genre of doom. The Australian quintet of Inverloch ascends to the summit of funeral doom with ease. Alongside bands like Evoken, Inverloch will remain as influential as they come. But now, rather than going all the way back to dISEMBOWELMENT’s work in the early 90s, musicians will be able to spin Distance | Collapsed for inspiration. Simply put, Mazziotta and Skarajew dial back the clock of time and produce some of their more brilliant, beautiful and well produced doom to date. This album will not be leaving the rotation anytime soon so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

– Manny-O-War


Distance | Collapsed is available 3.4.2016 via Relapse Records. For more information on Inverloch check out their Facebook page.


 

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