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Loss - "Despond" (CD)

Loss - "Despond" CD cover image

"Despond" track listing:

1. Weathering the Blight (1:01)
2. Open Veins to a Curtain Closed (10:05)
3. Cut Up, Depressed and Alone (9:23)
4. Deprived of the Void (3:08)
5. An Ill Body Seats My Sinking Sight (7:43)
6. Despond (2:07)
7. Shallow Pulse (7:03)
8. Conceptual Funeralism Unto the Final Act (of Being) (8:28)
9. Silent and Completely Overcome (10:34)
10. The Irreparable Act (7:19)

Reviewed by on June 15, 2011

"'Despond' is a magnificent debut, providing funeral doom full of immersive songwriting and a sinister mantra."

“Despond,” the debut record from Tennessee’s Loss, is like being swept underwater by a wild undercurrent. The depressing funeral doom music sinks the listener further beneath the waves and no matter how much one thrashes and swims, there is no chance for a last gulp of air. Feelings of suicide and hopelessness are commonplace, and the lifeless grunts and growls reinforce these emotions. “Despond” expresses this with no sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek eye-winking. It’s a hard album to get through, but the reward is brilliant compositions and a band driven to maintain the emptiness until the bleak end.

The record is confined to a reserved pace that only enters into death metal mode on “Silent and Completely Overcome.” These guys are immersed in the hour-long desolation provided by “Despond.” The songs don’t have any formal structure to them. Breaks into low-key clean passages and interludes are everywhere, yet tie into the record without being a cop-out to sully the lifeless temperament.

Music this somber is backed up by the kind of lyrics written by someone who spent a year in a dark room with no contact to the outside world. Slitting wrists and contemplating death are the cheerful thoughts expressed on the ten tracks. However, this isn’t some “woe-is-me,” “my life sucks” gimmicky dreck. It’s an appropriate side dish to the music. All the lyrics seem to build from song to song, a dark trip into the inner tortures of man. The last lines of closing track “The Irreparable Act” pose the questions, “Death awaits you/What are you waiting for?”, and the answer seems obvious.

These songs are stretched out to near double digits, yet never get too dull. There is enough variety thrown in to avoid “Despond” breaching the walls of repetition. After a spoken word intro, “Open Veins To A Curtain Closed” starts the record off proper with ten minutes of funeral doom goodness. A well-timed melodic breakdown a few minutes in allows the band to let the music open up, before closing up tight again. “Shallow Pulse” and “Conceptual Funeralism Unto The Final Act (Of Being)” don’t allow any brevity in-between their crushing guitar riffs.

The record only gets more experimental as it slumps along. The title track is a piano instrumental leading into the nasty “Shallow Pulse.” The last two tracks take the most risks on “Despond.” Clean vocals courtesy of Pallbearer’s Brett Campbell highlight the opus “Silent and Completely Overcome,” while “The Irreparable Act” is the soundtrack to the creepiest funeral procession of all time.

The album has been in the works for years, and Loss has gone through adversity to get it done and released. Profound Lore Records is on a roll lately with putting out quality records, and "Despond" is no anomaly. They have been labeled as doom/death by some, but that’s an unfair stamp. “Despond” is a magnificent debut, providing funeral doom full of immersive songwriting and a sinister mantra. It may force the listener down into the depths of a watery grave, but the sinking feeling will be a comfort for those who enjoy this genre.

Highs: Depressing funeral doom done with class, an album full of surprises, serious lyrics that don't come off as cheesy or gimmicky

Lows: A few more death/black metal-paced sections would have been suitable, the depressing nature of the music may be too much for traditional doom metal fans to endure

Bottom line: A hard doom album to get through, but worth the effort for fans of the genre.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)