02 Oct 2020 - Thorsten
Doom-Metal | Burning World Records | Release date: 02 Oct 2020
One of the older statesmen-bands of the early European Doom metalscene comes back and delivers a record that is oldschool and fresh at the same time.
“They never come back.” That’s what they always said about former boxing champions until Floyd “The Gentleman” Patterson came back and won his second World Boxing Championship in 1960. But if the music nerd among us is honest, one has to admit that the number of highly successful bands who came back after a real break and released a record that can compete with the old masterpieces. But, as Floyd showed, the generality in that idiom is always too big to hold up – and now we have another example that some bands DO come back with Dutch doom masters Celestial Season and their latest release The Secret Teachings of All Ages, out on Burning World Records since early October.
The band, now with a kind of “best-up” line-up of their former highlights, show right away why they are considered to be among the big players of early European Doom metal alongside Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. The opening title track starts with a near-classical string melody and develops a maelstrom of dragging drums and slowly developing bass lines. The only way in this odyssey is down into celestial sound. Yes, here celestial as an adjective, because the good thing about the band is the way they construct their songs. While the doomy rhythm section pulls at your feet, the guitars go upwards with some wonderful melodies, even with a solo part here and there. And the icing on the cake are Stefan Ruiters’ vocals that are deep, growling and yet soulful, but the best thing about them is: He does not imitate anybody, he’s just himself.
If you listen to this record you will notice how often the little details make it a great experience. The little violin melody at the beginning “The Ourobouros” which sounds like a Hungarian gypsy dancing around the campfire. Generally, the mood is very mellow, we are not facing death the leveller, we are more likely having to deal with one of his messengers who states that there is still a bit time left before the final end, so one better uses it for a last gathering. There is this kind of foreboding, when we hear the funeral doom tempo at the beginning of “Long Lorn Tears” - just seconds before the song picks up some speed and turns into Celestial Season’s straight rocker. When the song slowly fades out there is that little glimpse of hope that the old man will miss its destination.
The vocal sample at the beginning of “Amor Fati” greets us with a quote by Marcus Aurelius “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” The ancient emperor seems to lead us through the rest of the song whose title can be translated into ‘Love for fate’ - an idea of 19th century philosophers like Nietzsche, who asked themselves about the futility of human life and how much one can influence it. A very ‘doom’ idea, if there ever was one: man was born into this life but is not being able to influence its procedure, not being to negotiate a different date with one’s end. Not knowing your maker and not wanting to know your finisher.
If you like your metal fast and furious, then keep your hands off of this gem. If you want to bathe in walls of sound and ideas, enjoy little precious elements and parts here and there – then, please listen to this comeback album of the year. Celestial Season are nothing short of living proof, that the best of champions can return to reclaim their throne.