Doom:VS - Earthless (CD) Digipak

death doom metal, Solitude Productions, Solitude Productions
659.87 Р
Digi CD
Price in points: 1100 points
SP. 088-14D xs
In stock
Solitude Productions proudly presents the third long-awaited album of Doom:VS, a Johan Ericson’s band, a permanent member and a guitarist of a famous Swedish band Draconian! This new dark masterpiece by Doom:VS includes the best elements of the traditional band sound: outstanding melodies, gloomy atmosphere of sorrow and despair, depressive lyrics and, needless to say, highest quality of sound and performance. As always, Johan Ericson performed all instruments parties and clean vocals, while growl parties were performed by a special guest, Thomas A.G. Jensen, the vocalist of Saturnus who brought additional atmosphere and notes of desperation to the «Earthless» with his charismatic vocal.

1. Earthless 7:34
2. A Quietly Forming Collapse 9:18
3. White Coffins 8:53
4. The Dead Swan Of The Woods 7:27
5. Oceans Of Despair 8:12
6. The Slow Ascent 9:13

Artist Country:
Album Year:
death doom metal
CD Album
Solitude Productions
Cat Num:
SP. 088-14D
Release Year:
4 627080 610354
Country Of Manufacture:
The Rites of the Black Moon

Six long years passed since the release of Dead Words Speak. With Doom:vs being a side project, this is somewhat understandable, but still far too long. Rumours of a follow-up started a couple years back, and yet it still took this long for anything to come of it. With the release of Earthless, in April 2014, it would seem that it does not live up to the expectations set by the previous works.

The primary drawback to this record has to be in the vocal department. For one reason or another, Johan decided to bring in Thomas A. G. Jensen from Saturnus to provide vocals for most of the album. This was a horrible mistake, as there was nothing about the vocals of the first two albums that needed to be improved, really. Jensen's voice is too deep, losing what little feeling could have been added to the music. These sort of toilet-bowl gargles were fine for the old Broken Hope records, but here they are ineffective. Even worse, the clean parts that he contributes are completely unlistenable, possessing a nasal and whining quality. However, the worst of all are the parts that are neither harsh nor clean, but just sort of a hardcore shouting. Johan still contributes some clean bits, doing his best My Dying Bride impersonation, but these brief moments fail to save anything as they come off as forced and disingenuous.

The songwriting is much the same as before, featuring a good number of crushingly heavy riffs with a bleak and dismal feeling, as mournful melodies accentuate this melancholic vibe. Early on, Earthless is somewhat reminiscent of October Tide's A Thin Shell, with the title track not being too dissimilar from "The Custodian of Silence" is some aspects. There is no severe drop in quality from the previous releases, though it is by no means good enough to warrant such a long wait. One would think that Johan could have come up with this material, quite easily, back in 2010 or so. The number of truly memorable melodies is quite few, not nearly enough to make up for the problems this album possesses.

The production is about the same as the last albums in that it is pretty modern-sounding, but not so overdone as to lose the feeling of the music. Of course, being several years later, there is a noticeable difference. There is a bit more fuzz to the guitar tone than before, with neither helps nor hurts the music. To be honest, making the sound more raw would only have made the vocals even more unbearable, as this guy does not have an underground voice, at all.

Earthless is filled with rather average material, with the exception of "The Slow Ascent", which includes some gloomy tremolo riffs. Of course, as with the rest of this disappointing album, Jensen ruins most of it with his terrible vocal performance. Johan may have a thing for Saturnus, but some people actually wanted another Doom:vs album and we got ripped off. So much for this band. Avoid this.

Author: Noctir
Deaf Sparrow

A long time ago in a summer, far, far away, Draconian’s Turning Season Within came out and changed the game for my musical world. Few albums since then have come close to matching the sheer amount of emotional significance that Turning Season Within invokes. Johan Ericson, one of the masterminds behind such a fantastic album has his own side project called Doom:VS playing death/doom metal. Since 2004, he’s released three albums with the latest being Earthless with Thomas Jensen, the vocalist behind legendary Saturnus, on harsh vocal duty. Doom:VS’s past two albums have been absolutely fantastic and have received highly favorable reviews. His 2008 release, Dead Words Speak, should stand out as one of the best death/doom albums to ever have been released. With such high expectations, Earthless is quite the undertaking to review as all expectations need to be set aside to render the this as un-biased as possible. So let’s begin.

To start thing’s off, let’s focus on the instrumentation. Ericson is a riff master. If you’ve listened to his past albums with Doom:VS and his work with Draconian, you will instantly recognize his talent and creativity in being the absolute master of doom riffs. This isn’t any bullshit either – Ericson is fucking Commander Shepard of doom riffs and his version of the Normandy is Doom:VS. His rag-tag team of alien companions are his instruments and he has an Adept in bringing punishingly morose and heavy doom while being melancholic and beautiful. Unfortunately, some of the songs on Earthless are hit or miss but when they hit they hit hard. “A Quietly Forming Collapse, “White Coffins”, and especially “The Slow Ascent” are some of his best works yet but the title track, “The Dead Swan of the Woods”, and “Oceans of Despair” are rather plain. Nothing stands out and they really just become background noise. There’s probably value in the more boring tracks but it would require a dedicated listen to find it, but that shouldn’t be necessary in the first place (and clearly I’m going through a Mass Effect binge). These issues might be due to the vocalist, Thomas Jensen. After reading some comments on the band’s Facebook page [Editor: Check out a posting from May 10th in particular.], it seems there are a fair amount of people who disagree with him as the vocalist and Deaf Sparrow agrees. There’s something about the delivery of his low growls that sounds like he’s trying to abruptly end and doesn’t extend or hold his note. Unlike Ericson, he also doesn’t bring about much of that agonizing feel which is required for this darker form of death/doom, thus taking away some of the emotional value.

Overall, this album is great but not up to par with his past works. Despite this, Earthless should not be looked over and cast aside. It’s highly recommended it become a part of your musical library soon but it’s even more recommended to fans of the death/doom genre to pick up Dead Words Speak. While the gap between albums has been absurd and Ericson’s presence on social media has been little to none, he is still worthy of all your praise as he is the doom/death king who watches afar. We are enslaved to his will and his products of misery. Come forth Ericson and bring us to the gloomy shores where we will forever abide by your law and word (maybe without Jensen). Amen.

Author: Cole Olson

Doom:VS are a 1 man band from Sweden along with the singer of Saturnus doing the session growls that plays a very melodic and atmospheric form of funeral doom/death metal and this is a review of his 2014 album "Earthless" which was released by Solitude Productions.

Dark and depressive sounding synths start off the album along with a slow, dark and melodic funeral doom metal sound a few seconds later which leads up to some deep death metal growls becoming a part of the recording and after awhile you can hear some leads in the music tat utilize a great amount of depressing melodies.

Spoken word parts can be heard in certain sections of the recording and every song is close to 10 minutes in length and there are also some clean parts being mixed in with the heavier sounds at times and as the album progresses acoustic guitars are added into the musical arsenal adding a more progressive feeling to the recording while the music stills focuses more on a heavier sound and by the time the recording goes into the 5th track melodic clean singing vocals start to make their presence known and all of the songs remain in a slow direction from beginning to end of the recording.

Doom:VS creates a very dark and melodic sound with the way he approaches funeral doom/death metal as well as making each track a masterpiece for this genre of music, the production has a very dark and heavy sound, while the lyrics cover dark, depressive and poetic themes.

In my opinion Doom:VS are a very great sounding melodic and atmospheric funeral doom/death metal project and if you are a fan of this musical genre, you should check out this album. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Earthless" and "Oceans Of Despair".

Author: OccultBlackMetal
Mortem Zine

Začíná syrovým zmarem a končí chladnou osamělostí. Jestli o „Earthless“ můžu něco s jistotou tvrdit, zní v pořadí třetí dlouhohrající album one man projektu Johanna Ericsonna přesně tak, jak bych čekal a jak by znít mělo. Podmanivé kompozice většinou od svého tíživého počátku vygradují v pasáž, kterou si nejlépe vychutnáte, když jdete po ulici plné lidí na konci dne, který se nepovedl. Začnete se usmívat navzdory všemu a díky „Earthless“ vás na chvíli přestane trápit, že svět nefunguje. Usmívat se budete do chvíle, než vám hudba připomene, že příbuzní Draconian pořád neoznámili další album.

„Aeternum Vale“ a „Dead Words Speak“ definovaly má očekávání vůči nové desce. Na DOOM:VS jsem vždy oceňoval hlavně neortodoxní přístup na hranici funeral doomu s gothic prvky. „Earthless“ na téhle hranici přepadává do pohřebních pustin. Skladby se vyvíjí pomaleji než dříve, gotických prvků ubylo a atmosféra alba je bezútěšnější. Sám bych nečekal, že právě toto budu albu vytýkat. Největší problém, který s ním mám, je bytostně subjektivní. „Earthless“ na mě totiž působí podstatně méně dramaticky než předchozí dvě.

Možná jde o Ericsonovo nejvyzrálejší album. Všechny zvuky na něm jste ale slyšeli na předchozích dvou počinech a pravděpodobně vás ničím nepřekvapí. Tedy možná až na vokály Thomase A.G. Jensena (Saturnus). Vliv Saturnus je navíc dle mého názoru na albu poměrně čitelný.

Otázku, nakolik potřebujeme další stejné album, si musí ale každý zodpovědět sám. Za sebe můžu říct, že jsem si „Earthless“ užil. Mrtvá slova ke mně ale promlouvala víc a až budu mít na DOOM:VS zase náladu, sáhnu spíše po starších albech. Co si však pozornost rozhodně zaslouží, jsou texty a pokud si je propojíte s poslechem, vykvete deska do své plné krásy, kterou jsem původně přehlédl. Ruku na srdce, kolik z nás ale bude poslouchat a u toho číst texty (více, než jednou)?

Pokud bych měl vyzdvihnout jeden silný kousek, pak bych zmínil „White Coffins“ s nádherně zlým rozjezdem přecházejícím v hloubavou melancholii. Právě tato skladba podle mě může sloužit jako dobrý příklad toho, co dělá DOOM:VS tak silné- zármutek v jejich podání možná neskřípe o kost, ale - a nedokážu to asi lépe popsat - je v něm schovaná nepatetická naděje.

Author: Insomnic
The Metal Altar

Over on The Sons of Metal Podcast, El Goro has branded me "the doom guy" due to my predilection for the slower and darker side of metal. Naturally, this is going to mean coverage on doom metal albums here as well.

Doom:VS is one of those bands who has somehow escaped me over the years. I've heard the name a few times, but I hadn't checked out any tracks in the past. Come to find out, this is actually a solo project by Swedish musician Johan Ericson (Draconian, Shadowgarden), and he releases albums whenever he has the material or motivation to do so, which is why this is only the third album in the band's ten-year history.

The title track, "Earthless" starts off with a melodic opening before kicking in with a crushing guitar rhythm reminiscent of early My Dying Bride. Ericson creates a moody atmosphere, and his gutteral growls intermingled with spoken passages really set the tone for the rest of the album.

"A Quietly Forming Collapse" is a plodding beast of a song. After stomping on your soul for four minutes, it breaks into a classical guitar-influenced melody in the middle of this over-nine-minute epic before returning to its dirge-like beginnings and finishing with an intricately-played guitar solo. It's a glorious song and the album's stand-out track.

The next two tracks, "White Coffins" and "The Dead Swan of the Woods" have a more traditional funeral doom feel to them, with the latter hearkening back to early Evoken. Spoken-word interludes break up the song and heighten the sense of loss and isolation Ericson is conjuring.

"Oceans of Despair" returns to more of the My Dying Bride influence. If you can, try to imagine the musicianship from Like Gods of the Sun with the vocal delivery on As the Flower Withers, adding in some clean singing and more spoken-word passages. As a long-time MDB fan, this definitely hits a sweet spot with me, even if the song is about drowning in your own sorrow.

The album closes with "The Slow Ascent". As it advertises, the track slowly builds in tempo for eight minutes before dropping off into a keyboard melody once the song reaches its apex. If "A Quietly Forming Collapse" wasn't so damned perfect, this would be a contender for the album's best track.

If you're a doom/death fan, you really owe it to yourself to check out Earthless. Ericson has created an outstanding album, and my only wish is that he could put out albums of this quality with greater frequency.

Author: C. Hagen Radick
Abysmal Hymns

Sweden is not the first place that comes to mind when I think of doom, but Johan Ericson from Draconian proves to be a one man machine, impressively proving as adept at tracking drums as he is capturing some of these chilling guitars. I have a ravenous hunger for more funeral doom and it doesn't come out with the regularity I would like, but the albums are always meticulously crafted so they normally prove to be worth the wait.

The title track that opens the album is paced like a Mournful Congregation song, butt he vocals are more forceful and the song gets to moving at a more aggressive pace than the Mournful Congregates do. There is an Evoken like beauty to the sailing beginning of "A Quietly Forming Collapse". The low gurgled vocals are just like I want them from this sort of thing, they are broken up by spoken passages. After a time the spoken parts remind me of Paradise Lost.

The deliberate pacing is a slow droning rumble, it doesn't linger over the snare as crawlingly as some, the songs retain a sense of movement and break down into beautiful atmospheric sections that do not cost the overcast clouds that cloak the music. If there was going to be a single , I suppose it would be "White Coffins" as it adheres closer to a metal format than some of the sprawling tapestries of sonic gloom on this album. The vocals are accented in a way that sounds like the growls are keeping time rather than just bile churning.

This album is heavy as fuck but also trance inducing, I can just put it on and let it float away with me. There is almost a more shoegaze or post rock element to some of the guitar that twinkles in the background of "the Dead Swan of the Woods" , though the song it's self is metal splendor. The guitar melodies are pretty catchy, which in some ways is a Swedish trademark, though they are not being played here in fast layered harmonies like a methed out Iron Maiden like At the Gates, but in the same manner a David Gilmore solo sits with you.

"Oceans of Despair" floats out carrying on a similar cadence as the previous song until the clean vocals lift it up and hand the song over to the grunts of a more Celtic Frost like passage . The break down is pretty dramatic here, but the clean vocals smooth it out and make sense of things. the album closes with "the Slow Ascent' that has a tense guitar lead in that brings the song into the gray area between being depressive black metal and funeral doom,with the vocals the main element that makes the distinction . The tremolo picked guitar wells up out of a very delicate break down and further questions how distant of a cousin are the two sub genres.

Its an easy decision to give this album a ten , it sounds great and is well written what more do you want, if you like funeral doom or looking for an entry point into the genre this is a fine way to start.

Author: Wil Lewellyn
The Sonic Sensory

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been on a pretty solid doom binge for the last few years. As a whole it quickly became my favourite genre, bringing together so many aspects and themes that engage me as a simple listener. By now, I consider myself pretty well versed in the comings and goings of doom at every level, whether it be ambient, death, traditional or funeral. The genre as a whole stands out for me, invites me to share in the often thick atmospheres and dark imagery. Despite having listened to the genre so much, there’s always a sense of renewed grandeur with every new release, there’s always something different, something that relates to the listener. It’s the very foundations of the music that keep it so engaging, vibrant, fresh allowing the often dark tones to carry an air of mystique.

Take what you will from a genre often associated with monolithic dirges, non-existent beats and a tendency to promote drama (usually through themes such as despair, death, loss, longing… you see where this is going), ‘Earthless’ is as much of a ride as the act’s previous records, built with some solid fundamentals to achieve yet another grand opus of death inspired doom. Comparisons will rather expectantly arise when it comes to the Doom:Vs moniker. Born of Draconian fame, Johan Ericson brings a dark affair melded with smooth melodic sensibilities to release a record that unveils new aspects with each listen. At the album’s core, the music treads the line between beautiful and transcending. It’s not all mellow cleans broken by devastating growls. Doom has never been so simple. Everything crescendos, decrescendos and dances around the stereotypical cores of the music. It’s not without boundaries, but the borders of the genre never get crossed. J. Ericson knows the fundamentals (something built on years of experience) and brings out the best in every feature.

At times, ‘Earthless’ can be a ‘typical’ doom metal release. With a run time of just over fifty minutes, the album’s six tracks float between seven and ten minutes. For those not used to the usual doom dynamic, these may seem like lengthy tracks but they sit quite accessible to almost every listener of the album. It’s these shorter track times that allow the album to shine as a whole. Even the album opener (and title track) is an impressive display of the best the genre has to offer. Notes from a piano caress the softer aspects of the listeners’ minds, encouraging an emotive listen, building on the intertwining dynamics and melodic leads. The track does turn and twist bringing harsh growls and swelling compositions, if you aren’t hooked at this point, you’re already missing out. The rest of the record follows suit, bringing together a world of dark motifs, ethereal cleans and devastating heaviness. It’s weird that words alone do not describe an accurate representation of ‘Earthless’ by themselves. These words take more meaning once you’ve heard the record in its entirety.

If you’re anything like me, this is more than a welcome continuation of Doom:Vs’ previous album, ‘Dead Worlds Speak’. It becomes an addiction enabled by the best in the industry. It seems a whole lot of doom will fill my end of year list, even if we’re not even half way through the year. ‘Earthless’ is certainly worthy of the accolades it’s receiving (and those to come) and will see itself played often for years to come.

Author: Robert

Ein-Mann-Bandprojekte haben grundsätzlich einen etwas zweifelhaften Ruf, denn in den wenigsten Fällen gelingt es einer einzigen Person, den Prozess von der Erschaffung bis zur vollständigen Umsetzung von fesselndem Songmaterial in einer gleichbleibenden Qualität zu erreichen. Eine erfrischende Ausnahme hiervon stellt das Soloprojekt DOOM:VS dar, die Spielwiese des Schweden Johan Ericson, der auch bei der Gothic-Doom-Band DRACONIAN die Gitarre bearbeitet. Schon die beiden Alben "Aeternum Vale" und "Dead Words Speak" gehören zu den richtig guten Alben der schleppenden, doomigen Death Metal-Zunft – auch wenn es Herrn Ericson damit (bisher) nicht nachhaltig gelang, aus dem Schatten seines Hauptprojektes herauszutreten und es immerhin sechs Jahre von Vorgänger "Dead Words Speak" bis zur aktuellen Scheibe "Earthless" gedauert hat. Aber es zählt ja das Hier und Jetzt – und das kann sich im Falle von "Earthless" wahrlich hören lassen.

DOOM:VS konzentriert sich auf "Earthless", im Gegensatz zu seinen beiden Vorgängern, noch deutlicher auf die schwere, bleierne Seite des Death Doom: Dagegen wirkt Johan Ericsons Hauptbetätigungsfeld DRACONIAN stellenweise fast leicht und luftig. Dennoch driftet man nie in die gefährliche und allzeit verlockende Untiefe des Funeral Doom – die lähmende Monotonie – ab. Ein wirklich gelungener Drahtseilakt, den es auf "Earthless" zu hören gibt, und der konsequent die noch an den Vorgängeralben zu erkennenden Mankos ausbessert: Vornehmlich durch Steigerung im Bereich der Produktion und eine erfreuliche Überraschung bei der gesanglichen Leistung. Denn durch "Outsourcing" der Frontmannarbeit und Einbeziehung des Death-Doom-Veteranen Thomas A.G. Jensen (SATURNUS) mit seinen gegrowlten Parts, der die Kompositionen von "Earthless" in seinem markanten Gesangsstil noch etwas klagender und verzweifelter klingt lässt, wird der Musik von DOOM:VS eine zusätzliche Qualität verpasst. Aber auch gesprochen, geschrien und geflüstert wird auf "Earthless": Alles sehr harmonisch in die Stimmung der Songs eingefasst. Zudem klingt die Produktion noch etwas satter und voller als noch auf dem Vorgänger.

Natürlich dominieren auch auf "Earthless" genretypisch markante und walzende Riffs, die fast durchgehend im unteren Geschwindigkeitsbereich angesiedelt sind. Gelegentlich wird jedoch einen (klitzekleinen) Gang hochgeschaltet, und es entstehen mitreißende und geradezu anrührende Passagen, die bestimmt auch alte Metal-Haudegen sprachlos und berührt zurücklassen werden. Zudem gibt es auf "Earthless" einiges zu entdecken: Ein mitreißendes Duett im Titeltrack, ein einsames Gitarrensolo am Ende von "A Quietly Formin Collapse", das schwer verdauliche und monolithische "The Dead Swan Of The Wood", unerwarteter Klargesang in "Oceans Of Despair", der epische Einstieg in "The Slow Ascent". Jeder der sechs Songs enthält sein eigenes kleines Highlight - sei es mit ein bisschen Keyboard als Unterstützung, in Form einer bezaubernden Gitarrenmelodie oder als bewusst gesetzte Pause im Gesang: Langeweile kommt auf jeden Fall nicht auf. Dabei sind DOOM:VS stilistisch Traditionalisten im besten Sinne: Alle Songs stehen auf einem soliden Fundament der klassischen Death Doom-Werke der 1990er-Jahre, und man schafft es dennoch, nicht abgedroschen oder wie ein Plagiat zu klingen. Naheliegenderweise erhört man zwar ein bisschen SATURNUS, dazu die Kollegen von MOURNING BELOVETH, manchmal Anklänge bei MY DYING BRIDE – und all dies ist sicherlich keine Revolution des Genres, kein Feuerwerk an Innovation, das hier abgebrannt wird, aber es handelt sich zweifellos um schwer fesselnde und stimmungsvolle Musik, die mit traurigem Herzen und viel Leidenschaft vorgetragen wird.

Und so lässt man sich dann durch die fünfzig Minuten Spielzeit schleppen und kann die düstere, zähe und verzweifelte Stimmung der Songs förmlich greifen. "Earthless" ist somit ein Genuss für jeden Freund melancholischer Töne im Allgemeinen und Fans der oben bereits genannten Death-Doom-Größen im Speziellen. Also: Zimmertür zu, Vorhänge runter, Frühling raus – "Earthless" an.

Author: Sven Lattemann
Sputnik Music

While there’s plenty of familiarity and traditional doom songwriting to be found on Doom:VS’s third album, its sound is flawless enough to make me not care for comparisons, make me not care for other bands, make me oblivious to pretty much everything else while Earthless is playing. In that sense, there couldn’t have been a more fitting title for this record. I can’t call it a meditative album, though. During meditation, you strive to shut down your brain so you could effectively experience perfect harmony with the environment in which you’re in, cleansing your mind in the process. Earthless works the other way around: while it does a magnificent job of absorbing you during its 50-minute run time, much like meditation does, it sets your mind alight, rather than your senses. The album carries with it an aura that is austere, melancholic, bereft of sunlight, but one that above all excels at comprehensively nailing the listener into place and fixing his mind on the subject matter. There’s no real point in highlighting separate tracks here, as the album sounds best when experienced in full, building from crawling opening cuts to an explosive climax. As crushing guitars and deep growls eventually crash and entwine with powerful melodies, a level of clarity is reached at the end of the record. In a way, Doom:VS’s latest offering is a story of release, though there’s no real light or a higher plateau awaiting at the end of the journey. Emotionally, the album opens up as it progresses, but when all is said and done, the end is still unmistakably bleak. Feeling different emotions along the way though, isn’t that the point?

It has a magical quality to it, Earthless. It makes me dream bigger, think harder, envision broader. For example, it prompted me to write a long (and now entirely useless) paragraph about the sadness in us and how the album reflects it, although the source material’s scope is narrower and less abstract. Earthless is an album consumed by death: it breathes death, describes death, aches death, warns about death, it even wants to defy death. There’s no hidden philosophy to be found here – all is out for the listener to see and hear. Yet, much like with death, it isn’t as simple as it sounds. This seemingly straightforward doom metal album keeps opening doors leading to unexplored spaces with each new listen. Every single song on here has taken me over during different spells, from the hopeless title track to the unexpectedly soaring "Oceans of Despair", and all have abled my mind to portray very different images, in both tone and visuals. Aside from rock solid musicianship, it comes down to human nature and our fascination with phenomena we can’t fully wrap our heads around that makes Earthless as powerful as it is, I believe. After all, every event in our life that has to do with death has a profound effect on us, making us analyze and philosophize about our existence – we are, unmistakably, both frightful of and intrigued by it. Seeing as how multi-instrumentalist Johan Ericson deals with the subject and some of the emotions it invokes in an honest, musically engaging and thoughtful (albeit often indecipherable – grab a lyric sheet!) manner, it makes for, rather automatically, a fascinating record – one that has fantastic replay value and the ability to elicit fresh thoughts with every new spin. As many movie villains have proclaimed death to only be the beginning, the conclusion of the first playthrough to Earthless is just a start.

Author: Magnus Altkula
Angry Metal Guy

Doom:VS is a one man act with a pretty spotty record of productivity, but man, when they drop an album, it really drops hard! The brainchild of Johan Ericson (Draconian), Doom:VS released back to back gobstoppers of morose doom/death with 2006s Aeternum Vale and 2008s Dead Words Speak and both stand among the genre’s very best. Then, the band vanished from the mortal coil and seemed to be consigned to history. Without much warning, they’ve made a huge return with Earthless and now Johan is joined by Thomas Akim Gronbeak Jensen (Saturnus), who handles all the death roars. Earthless delivers 50 minutes of morose, forlorn, but heavy-as-fuck doom with more sadness and pathos than you can stand and you WILL feel oppressed. The music is much like the older Doom:VS platters, but there is a strong Saturnus influence too, and the combination works extremely well. Sometimes they borrow from My Dying Bride, and other times they sound more like October Tide, but they always sound convincing and the riffs are top notch.

With six songs, each clocking in between seven and nine minutes, you’d think this would be a chore to sit through, but it flows effortlessly and though the music is pretty dirgey, they manage to shift tempos just at the right moments to keep things rolling along like a grim parade. The opening title track is fraught with morosely trilling leads that are pure gold and the music is so emotional you can almost see the individual notes break down and cry. It’s everything doom/death should be and hits all the right buttons (especially the cold trem riffs that pop in around 6:40). “A Quietly Forming Collapse” (excellent title) is equally wrist slitting with some truly unhappy lead riffs that smother whatever hope you may have squirreled away deep in the crevices of your dark heart.

“White Coffins” has Finland written all over it, with a real winter coldness to the riffs and a hint of Insomnium and Rapture in the leads. The sudden addition of haunting clean vocals on “Oceans of Despair” is very effective and reminds me a lot of Warning‘s Watching From a Distance, and “The Slow Ascent” benefits from a slight Primordial vibe to the riffs and song structure.

Doomvs_2014This stuff is slow, but not funeral doom slow and despite the length of the songs, it never causes me to drift or go moss peeping, and that’s the sign of solid doom/death. That said, it’s tough to say exactly why this works as well as it does. It stays pretty close to genre norms and isn’t the least bit innovative or progressive. It just works and that’s all that really matters.

Johan’s riffs are really a thing of beauty here. He was always a great riff writer, but these are some of his best yet. Always melancholy and somber, they flit between beautiful and crushing and maintain that delicate equipoise across the album’s length. The addition of Jensen on vocals pays immediate dividends, with his deep, powerhouse roars and odd shouts, he brings a lot of the Saturnus magic heard on albums like Martyre to this project and it’s an instant fit.

If you love your doom/death emotional and sad, rather than heavy and grinding, Earthless is your new Wookie co-pilot. Doom:VS continues to impress me when they deign to release something and if your only quibble with a band is that they aren’t productive enough, that’s not exactly an indictment. Excellent, emotional stuff right here.

Author: Steel Druhm
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