I've been listening to this album, a hopefully lucky thirteenth for a band I enjoyed immensely back at the turn of the century, for a few days now and it's grown on me considerably. My first listen was a little underwhelming but each subsequent run through has improved its stature until I'm having trouble now moving onto the next release in my review queue. However, as much as I enjoy each of the ten individual tracks on offer, their hooks now old friends, this still plays to me as one complete forty minute chunk of doomladen gothic metal rather than a bunch of songs.
Mostly, that's because this is so utterly consistent. Wall of Gloom sets things in motion in style, an agreeably dense mood floating around the pleading vocals of Julian Larre, who had debuted very effectively on 2019's excellent Bleeding the Stars. Those vocals aren't just emotional; they actively reach out to us, involving us in the stories each song has to tell, each of which revolves in some way around the album's theme of being able to step back and disappear, understandable during these troubled times.
The riffs are dark and doomy, but there's a decadent gothic veneer draped over everything. It's all mood and it contributes to the density of this sound, because it isn't just heavy in musical terms, it feels heavy like it's handmade out of polished mahogany and deep velvet that have weight both in the physical sense and in weight of time. They've seen a lot. Much of this comes from the backdrop that hints at storms and fog and other things that can cloak us from the eyes of the world, as only a little creature easily vanished into the grandeur of creation.
That's there on The Vastness of Infinity, where it ought to be, but it's there throughout. That track stands out a little because it returns the album to its core sound after a couple of songs varying it just a little. The first four songs here are all outstanding but do a very similar job in a very similar way, from Wall of Gloom to In a Lengthening Shadow. They're all exactly like what I suggested over my last couple of paragraphs. But The Curtain of White Silence has a different vocal approach and Unseen another. I much prefer the latter to the former and, while it's tough to pick out favourites here, it's safe to say that that's my least favourite.
What The Curtain of White Silence does is take Larre's emotional vocal style and throw it through an emo filter. It's still emotional but it shifts from elegant pleading to unsophisticated whining. It isn't a good shift, though it doesn't clash with the music behind it. Maybe children of the nineties may dig it a lot more than I do. Unseen goes in the other direction, heavying the vocal up to more of a growl, underlining how a lot of this sound is the sort of gothic metal that evolved from doom/death. To Disappear in You has a neat double vocal, mixing the clean with the harsh and allowing both to continue in their way. These work a lot better for me.
And they lead the way to the final couple of tracks, which are up there with the first four. In fact, if I could ever truly separate these songs out to be able to think of them in isolation, I might suggest An Invisible Beginning as my highlight, with Shroud of Night, the kinda sorta title track, not much of a trek behind it. The catch is that I then roll back around to listen through the album again and find how much I dig Wall of Gloom and A Cloak Woven in Stars and suddenly it's all about how well this plays as an album rather than individual songs.
After a dozen listens, I'd call out the first four and the last two songs as the highlights, which is an impressive amount. They're all heavy and dense and emotional, but they also carry strong hooks, similar ones for sure but strong ones nonetheless. They all take me back to my days in Halifax and the rise of Paradise Lost from doom/death pioneers through gothic metal pioneers to heavy icons dabbling in the new wave. There's a lot from a few of those eras here, but combined into a gothic metal style that's much richer than the bleak sound of Paradise Lost's Gothic album. That's where Lacrimas Profundere live and I couldn't be happier.