I was recently in Omaha and stopped off at the local music store. I picked up this album partially on the strength of Patrick's ranking them so highly in his Top 25 bands here. I was very surprised by the sound of this band as I expected them to be more of a melodic black metal band. Perhaps this album is different from their earlier material, I am not sure as I am not overly familiar with this band.
I would classify this album as doom metal with some progressive and black metal influences, but it is definitely more of a slower, doom metal album than black metal. The album opens up with a somber melody delivered by a wind instrument that is either an oboe or a french horn, I am not up on my musical instruments lately. The first song is a heart-wrenching ballad about a breakup and the vocalist's girlfriend packing up and leaving. It sets the tone for this sprawling slow-paced dirge covering heartbreak and suicidal thoughts and finally acceptance and moving on.
The lyrics do get a little cheesy at times and some of the backing vocals break up the mood, such as when they repeat something delivered by the lead vocals that is particularly poignant. The lyrics have been criticized for being somewhat emo, but I do not think that is the case. I think the lyricist is fairly brave for dealing with subjects that most of us can relate to. We have almost all been through a particularly crushing breakup at some time or other.
The band is at their best when they are dealing with slow and heavy songs. Tracks like "Everything I Touch Turns to Gold (Then to Coal)" is a devastatingly powerful song. Some of the tracks are short experimental songs that are at best forgettable, such as "You are Here with Me".
This is an interesting album. It is a little on the long side though, being nearly 80 minutes long. I am not sure yet how much I like it. I think it needs some time to sink in more, but it is an impressively melodic album with a lot to offer musically.