Amber Asylum - Sin Eater
Neoclassical Doom
8 songs (62' 45")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

Sin Eater, neoclassical doom outfit Amber Asylum's most recent LP, is unusual in its quiet pensivity. A rarity in a genre filled with the thundering vocals and crushing riffs of metal, Sin Eater is a soft mix of decidedly un-metal viols and cellos, with bass and drumming providing a hard counterbalance. But the sense of brooding oppression it contains is as leaden as its heavier counterparts, despite the ethereal atmosphere swirling around it.

The melodies are slow and languorous, modern but with classical underpinnings, with founding member Kris Force and drummer Becky Hawk's minimal vocals mixed to stand out over the groaning strings; a bit of synth is mixed in here and there as well. Throughout the early songs, the bass patiently climbs up an endless scale. It's haunting, but isn't all lilting melodies and scraping cello, something which is sure to get old after a while. There are heavier tracks, which make for a good break, and TOT is a standout: Halfway through the song, the strings get grimmer and more determined, and the bass and rhythm begin to slink along faster and faster, like a cat stalking a small bird, finally ending with a screeching guitar solo crammed far in the back of the mix.

Each piece is emotional and varied. Paean's bass acts as the rhythm, playing a single note over and over that the drums riff off like a heartbeat, while almost half of Executioner consists of random synth noise, stepped through delicately by bass notes and with the vocals drifting through them in a way that suggests lost ghosts wandering through the ruins of their former abodes. Abruptly, at the end of the song, the cello and viols kick in menacingly, and the guitar solos are back, even more twisted and scratchy than ever. The title track is even more atmospheric, with synth melodies echoing in and out of the mix, some soft and others harsher and more electronic. This one got a bit too drone-y for my tastes, but it definitely strikes the right mood.

While a lot of dark cello acts haven't really piqued my interest, Sin Eater is probably the best I've heard of this style of music to-date. Done by a group with strong connections to the metal scene and a great deal of musical experience, it succeeds well in evoking an atmosphere of darkness and ponderous deliberation, all with a much lighter touch than is normally required.

Killing Songs :
TOT, Paen
Andy quoted 76 / 100
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