Album review: Grief Symposium – …In The Absence Of Light

British doom-death outfit Grief Symposium have a long, hard look into the void on ultra-heavy, curiously exhilarating debut…

Album review: Grief Symposium – …In The Absence Of Light
Nick Ruskell

Like Black Sabbath's doomy 1970 debut, ...In The Absence Of Light begins with the tolling of a bell and then a massive, low, very slow riff. But if Sabbath's darkness are what you got at the end of the '60s when the hippy dream soured and the shadow of Vietnam loomed large, East Anglian death-doomsters Grief Symposium are what happens when you shovel another 53 years of misery on top of it.

Principally made up of members of '90s doom outfit Entwined and more recent death metal outfit, the excellent The King Is Blind, Grief Symposium know their way around heaviness and how to deploy it. Mostly, The Absence Of Light is doom of the most supremely heavy type, calling to mind the crushing misery of the earliest works by much-missed Coventry doom standard bearers Cathedral and the earliest noises from Halifax miserablists Paradise Lost, only taken much, much further. Occasionally, such as on Temple Of Decay, they deliver fine death metal, but the roots here are very much in the same soil as doom metal's legendary Peaceville Big Three.

The lyrics – themed around, "a reflection on, and exploration of, a couple of significant decisions and pivotal moments in my life. On events that are tied to, and centered around, faith; about its power and what it brings to those with it; about loss of it and that void or emptiness for those without; and about how it may be replaced, sometimes with apathy and emptiness, sometimes with something else positive, and others, something destructive, and the unintended consequences of those paths" – are delivered by singer Steve Tovey in such a growl that the minutiae of the words may be lost, but the intent remains unambiguous. ...In The Absence Of Light is just that, a more poetic way of saying total darkness. Oddly, that's quite an exhilarating thing, and Grief Symposium will truly excite fans of the doomier side of life.

Once more into the void, dear friends.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Cathedral, Esoteric, My Dying Bride

...In The Absence Of Light is released on January 27 via Church Road

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