The Sombre - Monuments of Grief

08 Sep 2022 - Thorsten

Doom Metal | Chaos Records | Release date: 19 Aug 2022 | Favorite song: Monuments of Grief

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Okay I admit defeat. Maurice de Jong, you are a master of not only one craft but of many. Each genre known to metal fans has now been done to perfection by the Dutch jack-of-all-trades. Following his sheer endless releases is like trying to count the bees around the freshest, strongest-smelling flowers in the middle of summer. And he has done it again – now in one of the genres he grew up with: The Sombre gives us some of the most wonderfully arranged and structured Death-Doom this side of the millennium.

Grief has a way of blending out everything else around the person stricken with it, simultaneously taking over every nerve and fiber in one’s body and blinding that person so that not one ray of light or hope can come through. Everyone who has ever lost one of those dearest knows what I am talking about. And in some way, The Sombre is able to do something similar, which needs a bit of explanation of the situation: I have been listening to the record for some time over my headphones now, and with every additional spin, I can notice my breath and heart rate slowing down while I descent ever more down the winding, cathartical staircase that these six songs spanning roughly 39 minutes lead me on. Along the grey-black walls I see pictures of the people I lost in my lifetime like my father and my godfather, but I am also confronted with my own aging and the inevitability of my own death, hopefully later than sooner. A feeling of dread or despair on the other hand is not what accompanies the rhythm of my slowly tapping feet on the roughly hewn stone-steps; no, what I feel is the warmth of the earth behind the stones and the sound of people sirening me further. (And no, this is not in any way a bad feeling, as we are all at one point or another confronted with that one question, no one has yet been able to answer: “What after?”)

The songs on Monuments of Grief are monolithic and each is perfect in its own way and all share a certain glimmering sound: beneath the perfect pace of for example ”When Death Comes I Will Be Beside You” there is this little tinge of silver on the melody line of the guitar horizon. We are not overpowered, we are lured. And sometimes the silver lining is De Jong’s voice, which is calming me down, even though I barely understand a word of death metal growling as it is so deep that it should be seen as an instrument on its own right. He surely delivers one of the best vocal performances of his entire career – and that means something for somebody with a list of roughly 130 entries on Discogs. One can feel the warmth of the synths welcoming us on the way upward. Yes, upward it must be, because who knows where these steps actually end – when listening to the middle passage of ”When Death Comes…” and all its synth glory there is this glimpse of skylight, white light, a warm white noise like holding my hand. And this is what Maurice does brilliantly on Monuments of Grief - adding the warmth of early Peaceville-bands like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride or then Anathema. The slight doominess or maybe Gothic appeal of these bands shimmers through songs like ”The Mourning Gloom” (those titles!) or ”Paradise Regained”.

Maurice de Jong, I admit defeat. But this one is one I don’t mind. For you remind us of the depth that grief can have but simultaneously you hold our hand while doing so, leading us up the stairs, for where there is help, there is a way upward. Thank you!