02 Feb 2021 - Pat O'
I was fearful that an underlying sense of pride and bias would creep into reviewing an album from a band that hail from my home-town of Cork, Ireland. However, I’m confident you will find that after immersing yourself in this album, you’ll agree that all the positive feedback it has received to date is on merit.
The Grief was a coming together of incredibly talented musicians from the Irish Metal scene. “Corr Mhóna” and “For Ruin” are well respected bands and have released some quality material between them. However, in 2016, their nostalgic and deep-rooted love for all things heavy, dark and gothic forged the creation of The Grief.This is an album the has manifested itself from two EPs that were released in 2020. “Ascent” was released in February and “Descent” followed in October. These two slabs of rapturous, doom inspired works are the ingredients of “Horizon’s Fall”.
So, to the music! “To a new dawn” opens proceedings with some sentimental, melody-driven hooks and riffs. Lush dual guitars fill the air, giving scope for the soaring clean vocals of Stephen Quinn to elevate the song to another place. Those of you of a certain vintage will acknowledge and rejoice in its Paradise Lost inspired splendour. The gothic and doom metal of the 90’s is ever present throughout this album and is a joy to hear when it’s done as well as this.
Next up is the herculean and impeccably delivered “In Defiance” which is crystalline in delivery, with clear vocal harmonies and mellow tones to begin. However, the tide shifts unceremoniously, and the song takes on a more sinister facade with the guttural vocal delivery that ensues. Stephen’s vocal range is a joy to behold, but in this vociferous duel, the clean vocals win out and reach some truly lofty heights before the twin lead guitars see out the track.
Harsher and more aggressive moments are found on tracks like “sunder”. Its bleak and harrowing delivery gives it huge presence and the promise of a classic live track. I can hear echoes of Mourning Beloveth rumble in the distance through both the dense and airy sections of this track. With this release, they’ve managed to capture all the atmosphere and theatre that the “doom metal” genre is renowned for.
The ebb and flow of this album is well anchored and is meticulously maintained by the drumming of John Murphy (with Con Doyle now taking the sticks) and the equally talented Kieran O Leary on bass. It’s as diverse a release as can be expected in a genre that feeds off dark, slow tempos and weighty restraints.
Each of the nine tracks really pack a punch,and deliver melody and menace in equal measure. Tracks like “The Ascent”, with its infectious lead hook, and its subdued vocal delivery is a joy. This is followed by “Den of thieves” which is equally as polished and memorable.
The talent and the confidence in the guitar work on this album is truly something to behold. From heavy downtrodden riffs to great swells of grandeur, the tone is rich and full, but still has that heavy and commanding presence. It’s fair to say Paul Quinn and John Murphy are true craftsmen and are a real driving force.
To summarise, Horizon’s Fall is a polished and well produced piece of “Gothic Doom” that can stand shoulder to shoulder with anything that’s out there today. I would even go as far as to say it wouldn’t have looked out of place back in the 90’s either. Comparisons will be made with the likes of My Dying Bride, Katatonia and Paradise Lost and that’s justified recognition to the talent these Cork boys have in abundance. Even the artwork that Slava Gerj produced for both the album and the Eps is a triumph. An album cover can do so much in setting a mood and giving the music more meaning and reverence. I look forward to seeing what 2021 will bring for The Grief.