Thursday 15 June 2023

Sporae Autem Yuggoth - ...However It Still Moves (2023)

Country: Chile
Style: Doom/Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 19 May 2023
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While Sporae Autem Yuggoth certainly play doom/death metal as advertised, that doesn't give an accurate impression of what they really do.

The doom at the heart of their sound is deep and slow, surely rooted in funeral doom and it's aided by the keyboards of Johanna Sánchez, which add a tantalising visual element to their sound, as if a song isn't just a song but a portal into a mediaeval castle, a torture dungeon or an ancient abbey. I know that most of what she does is texture, but that probably extends to sound effects, like an odd bell or scream or gust of wind. On rare moments when the band speeds up, which they do at some point in most songs, they sound fast but they're actually just catching up to the tempos that many doom/death bands use to begin with.

The death aspect is primarily in the vocals of Patricio Araya, who doesn't sound at all like his fellow Chilean namesake, Tom. Patricio's voice isn't so much a death growl, as a hoarse croak. It's an ache of a voice that adds more to the textures the keyboards are conjuring up, bringing age and history with it, as if he's been stuck in those castles, dungeons or abbeys for centuries. Finally he's got the chance to tell his stories, but he's been so long without a voice that he has to fight to get more out than the whisper at the heart of The Pendulum of Necropath, managing it across the album with a time-honoured rasp.

Sánchez is the new fish here, as everyone else has been in place since the band formed in 2019, and their only previous release was an EP back in 2020 called The Plague of the Aeons, which featured a slightly different line-up: no keyboards, but a second guitarist, Juan Drey, who left a year later. I'm intrigued as to what that sounds like, because the keyboards here often creep in through cracks an additional guitarist wouldn't leave so obviously in place. There are songs when Sánchez sees those keyboards as a sort of second guitar, as on the gloriously titled ten minute epic Colosus Larvae: The Crimson Coffin & The Scarlet Worm. There are points where she fills in like she's a mad organist in a different part of the building who delights in joining in, but surprisingly subtly.

I should add that this is a long album and the length may be its toughest challenge, as it reaches a breathe over an hour, ambitious for a debut album. That length works for me, because this isn't a typical set of songs, it's an immersion into a particular atmosphere and that lingers even after the music is done, so time ceases to have meaning. The fact that this feels ancient, gothic not in music genre so much as in literary genre, aids that because it feels like it's taken centuries to arrive with us. If a song could be dropped, maybe Disintegration would be a good candidate because it's faster and more traditionally built for the most part and so brings us out of that atmosphere a little.

On a more traditional album, it would be a highlight and it's a tasty and mature piece, built out of rollicking riffs rather than atmosphere. It also helps to underline how delicate Disguise the Odious Spirits is on its heels. This is the true epic of the album, running twelve and a half minutes, putting it a couple ahead of Apparition of Internal Odes, Colosus Larvae, Through Dominion to Interlude, a trio of songs that run around the ten minute mark. This is the one among them that truly takes its time to set the scene and ease slowly into a build. The others all tell stories, while the third has fun with the band's roots, hinting at the Funeral March in a less overt way than Candlemass.

And I do wonder which bands combined in their minds to distil this particular sound. It used to be a given that doom/death bands owed a serious debt to Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, but that's not obvious here. I'm hearing a more continental flavour than a British one, finding inspiration in Celtic Frost, Winds of Sirius and, especially as the album builds, Candlemass. I'm sure there are an array of funeral doom bands in the mix too and likely classical composers too, thinking far beyond a Chopin nod to the way they write in such a visual fashion and play with space, especially during the elegant closing instrumental, The Night Ocean. I'll seek out some interviews to discover how they reached this sound.

I'll seek out some interviews to discover how they found this sound. I'll also play this a bit more in between reviewing other albums, because I think it's going to grow on me even more than it has.

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