There’s a fine line between the intricacies and atmospheric leanings of doom and the fast, riff-like insistence of death metal that few bands seen to walk these days. While Swallow The Sun comes to mind in regards to bands that represent the death-doom handle, some don’t come close to that comparison. Many, in fact, seem to lean into the tropes of one genre or another, leading to a sonic mess that weighs on the listener for the wrong reasons. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Soliloquium, a band whose album, Things We Leave Behind, not only walks that fine line of death-doom but also seems to embody it through its rather bleak and poignant lyrics.
One of the major things that I want to focus on is how Things We Leave Behind is a myriad of several genres woven together to create something bleak. There’s a post-metal undercurrent that crosses into noir territory that struck me as something Kontinuum explored in No Need to Reason. However, unlike the almost romantic and slightly erotic undercurrents that made it stand out in my mind, Things We Leave Behind digs itself deeper into its wounds. Although it seems to provide vibrancy to its themes via powerful, moving guitars and rapid-fire drums when necessary, this is still a clearly sad record based on personal experience and anguish, particularly one filled with reference to mental health and the pessimistic outlook that comes with that frame of thought.
There’s also a distinct hurt that colors the album, one that hides underneath the surface of the album’s artwork, making itself known once the listener’s focus shifts from the music to the lyrics. Once ingrained, the listener will begin to understand just how dark this album can get, and it makes one question just how introspective they truly are and how horribly personal the speaker’s demons are. As someone who has depressive episodes from time to time, Things We Leave Behind hits hard. Although my own personal demons are different from what is being explored here, I can still empathize with what the speaker is going through – the inherent need for isolation, the place at the end of the rope, the deep grief that sits upon someone’s shoulders. It’s a lot to take in and your own feelings may vary differently than mine but know, this is a powerful album.
Despite this, my main issue with it is the production values, particularly its mixing. I wish the mixing was done a little better, since the instruments still sound like they are separated. The sound is not completely cohesive, however, this is still not a detriment – in fact, one may consider it simply part of the experience.
All in all, Things We Leave Behind is an album filled with a breathy post-metal undercurrent that belies an important issue, albeit a very personal one. Although the mixing may put off the first-time listener, Things We Leave Behind is incredibly rewarding and worth the runtime, and may sit with you or haunt you for a long time. As some of the best death-doom has a tendency to do.