The importance of, and the tone set by, doom metal’s progenitors cannot be overstated. Bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram set a precedence that many would follow, imitate, and emulate. Sweden’s Heavydeath stick to this undeniably effective early template of doom metal on their second full length In Circles We Die. However, the band are no imitators. Rather, they take that slow, heavy template and expand upon it in such a way that the sounds emanating from their work is quite possibly some of the heaviest in the pantheon of today’s death inspired doom metal.
It makes sense then that the members comprising Heavydeath were all in Runemagick, a band that started out as death metal but over the course of 12 full lengths, transformed themselves into an absolute beast of a doom metal band. They championed that sense of dread and despair with a slow burn atmosphere and even slower playing. When the first string of demos surfaced from Heavydeath it was apparent Runemagick was either on hold or done. But also apparent was the fact that this band brought back elements from their death metal past and at least on the surface was louder and immensely heavier. Debut Eternal Sleepwalker was the absolute epitome of the word monolithic, but also disparaging and grueling fit the bill as well. Which is ultimately the point of doom metal in its purest form.
In Circles We Die speaks to simplicity and how much can be done with it. Not that what this trio does is simple, but in an age of ‘let’s throw every available sound in and complicate things’ this band sticks to the basics. It’s primal and raw but damn effective. Whereas their debut was more of an in your face affair, this album has that element as well but relishes, more than ever, in its patience. “Rope of Emptiness” lumbers through the opening minutes like funeral doom but opens up to expose an animalistic death march. Nicklas Rudolffson’s gruff vocals only add to the feral sound throughout, his vocals have aged like a fine wine and not only fit with this kind of metal but entrench itself deeply into the overall feel of the work.
Back to the simplistic approach, “As We Foretold” is a cavalcade of repeated riffs and vocal verses, bombastically deep drumming and catchy songwriting. And really, following the band through their vast stack of demos and EP’s, this track is one of their most addictive. So if one is looking for that hook, look no further. Johan Bäckman’s bass plucks across the beginning of “Slumbering Monolith” is one of the reasons he is the most underrated bass player in metal today. If the bass was isolated and removed from this album all the massive weight of it would be gone. So there’s that, among many nuances that make this album a huge standout in not only this bands work but in doom metal as well. However, the star here is the nearly 12 minute closer “The Fallen One”. Taking all the slow building dread, classic doom metal and the massive death metal crunch of the band’s past, this is the penultimate combination of it all. And much more than that, it’s the successful culmination of all the bands hard work to date and hopefully will find the band with much more of the attention they so deserve.
On In Circles We Die, Heavydeath have positioned themselves as frontrunners in keeping the founding tenets of doom metal alive and well. But furthermore, Heavydeath expands on these tenets exponentially by creating something that not only speaks to the past but pushes doom metal, as a whole, forward. There will always be a place for bands that know how to take what has come before and make it better. And Heavydeath are the best example of how it’s truly done.