QAALM - Resilience and Despair

18 Apr 2022 - Thorsten

Funeral Doom | Trepanation Records, Hypaethral Records | Release date: 15 Apr 2022 | Favorite song: Existence Asunder

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There are those moments, when one knows upon hearing the first few seconds of a new band’s debut that this is gonna be good! When listening to Resilience & Despair, the debut of Los Angeles-based funeral doom outfit QAALM, that moment was given within some short seconds of the first track!

There is this vibrato intro which is then accompanied by some slowly synth and then a semi-acoustic guitar joining in and repeating a very simple but wonderful melody a few times before the rhythm section sets in with a good but not brutal crunch. Those are the first ninety seconds of ”Reflections Doubt” and all that follows in this song and the next three, spanning the next 67 minutes, is nothing but all-around funeral doom goodness.

One should never underestimate the effect that such music can have on a person, slowing down one’s breath, one’s heartbeat but never giving in to sleep. That is also a difference to ambient or extreme doom bands that try to out-bore you without giving you anything to hold onto. QAALM give us lots of things to look forward to in every song like the really well-done mix of death-metal growls and overstretched doom vocals plus the really serene clean passages, which usually stand a bit in the background of the mix but dominate the song nevertheless.

This is the debut by a band whose members did not play in genre-bands before and sometimes that is also clear, when listening to some of the “groovier” parts in the opus magnum ”Existence Asunder” which will instantly become a classic in this genre. The band is able to groove without being groove-metal in the sense of Life of Agony or middle-era Sepultura. Or generally mid-90s Roadrunner Records releases. The band stretches their groove over several minutes in their songs. In ”Existence Asunder”, for example, they are able to stretch said tempo over minutes right after the halfway mark (so roughly, after 10 minutes!) and the song develops something of a psychedelic pull-effect, one gets so lost in it.

However, one might say that for every of their tracks – also due to the fact that none is shorten than 14:30 minutes. Added the amazing “versatility” that the band shows on these first four tracks, one can be a bit frightened of how good they can become. Even though, they all have experience of playing in bands, they show much more than simple experience or skill. They show songwriting which some other bands usually one achieve on their third or fourth record. Need an example? When the solo guitar hits at minute 16:16 it’s like a warm sunshine rising up from the tombs, gracing one’s face. As if the dead try to calm you by reaching out to you! Scarily good. Or also the violin-supported intro to the third track, ”Cosmic Descent”, it’s just remarkable.

The band is able to use some of their hardcore roots by really hitting on their instruments with force but they never aim for destruction. It’s always about the song and the record. A really good thing to say about a debut record. One can probably listen to these 69 minutes over and over and over again and find new things to fall in love with. And now, please excuse me, the first few seconds of Resilience & Despair have started again and I have to bathe in the record’s magical opening.