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On Pain Of Death - "Year Naught Doom" (CD)

On Pain Of Death - "Year Naught Doom" CD cover image

"Year Naught Doom" track listing:

1. Year Naught Doom (11:26)
2. Tell Your God To Ready For Blood (13:14)
3. It Came From The Bog (17:42)

Reviewed by on October 29, 2012

"The track listing is aligned so that each track gets progressively longer, so if the first track was like wading through quicksand, the next track is like going belly-deep into barbed wire."

With illegal downloading a common practice in today’s music culture, it’s up to bands to find ways to convince people to row against the tide and purchase a new album. Packaged deals are the current trend, usually a CD/DVD combo or a T-shirt included, but one of the growing trends is to use the Bandcamp website and have the audience name their own price. This option has afforded unsigned bands or those without the means for physical distribution to test their music out, and see if they can find a consensus. Handshake Inc. is one of the labels going out of their way to have all their albums use this strategy, and one of their deadliest offerings at the moment is On Pain Of Death’s “Year Naught Doom.”

This three-track effort is grim doom metal unfit for the happy-go-lucky listener. A choking darkness present throughout, the album’s submissive approach is a challenge to appreciate. The track listing is aligned so that each track gets progressively longer, so if the first track was like wading through quicksand, the next track is like going belly-deep into barbed wire. It’s not quite at the funeral doom level of despair, but “Year Naught Doom” comes inches away from that several times.

On Pain Of Death doesn’t make that side of them clear in the opening moments of the album, starting the title track with a mellow electric guitar. It’s got a melodic twist, the band substituting melody for unsettling tranquility, though that sound dissipates when the rest of the instruments barge in. The tuneless screaming, which makes the lyrics a blur, enhances the chilling dread that washes over the track. Though it passes 11 minutes and beyond, the time doesn’t seem forced or played out. As far as the band being a tight group music-wise, the title track is the most consistent tune on “Year Naught Doom.”

As the lengths expand, so does the repetition. Much of it is a benefit to the album, though when it’s placed near the end like on “Tell Your God To Ready For Blood,” it almost seems redundant to have it in there. Having repeating parts squeezed together is something to get accustomed to; what isn’t is the missed opportunities, where the music appears to be going somewhere interesting only to fall into a predictable path. A crushing bass break on “It Came From The Bog” sets the stage for nothing, and the band does the whole “fade out, randomly come back in” move on the same song that hasn’t been clever in years.

Checking out “Year Naught Doom” is as easy as going to their Bandcamp page. The album is good enough to be worth full price, its soul-crushing doom metal a perfect accompaniment to a blistery fall evening. Handshake Inc. has something good going with albums like “Year Naught Doom,” and hopefully this leads to On Pain Of Death getting a look from a bigger label or achieving a level of notoriety.

Highs: Grim doom metal, name-your-price option on Bandcamp for the album, album gets more disturbing the further one dives into it

Lows: Longer lengths on the last two tracks can occasionally be a hindrance, vocals don't do much besides assuring these aren't instrumental tracks

Bottom line: "Year Naught Doom" is value for your buck, doom metal racked with despair that is available on Bandcamp in a name-your-own-price format.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)