In the beginning was Doom Metal, and the Doom Metal was with Black Sabbath and Doom Metal was Black Sabbath. The style morphed into Heavy Metal and countless sub-genres, but it began with the heavy doom-laden riffs from Iommi. Many bands were inspired and one of them was Celestial Season who took up the Doom baton, released a demo in 1992 and the first full length in 1993, thus beginning an impressive musical journey that 30 years later has led to Mysterium I and II, both released this year.
Already on their first full length, one could notice that they set out to put their own distinct mark within the Doom Metal genre as they introduced the violin among their instrumentation. After some years they changed styles to Stoner Metal, then more or less disappeared from the scene for 20 years, but came back in 2020 with the acclaimed Doom album The Secret Teaching. And now the fun begins as they explore genre borders and widen what Doom can be; on this year’s last release, I am tempted to call their style Atmospheric Doom Metal.
The first song ” The Divine Duty Of Servants opens as a traditional Doom Metal song should, with heavy slow-moving riffs, sometimes splintered by a high-pitched note. As the deep growling vocals seep unhurriedly forward there is a saxophone rising in the sonics. The vocals on this album are remarkable throughout. It sometimes sounds like a growling version of Tom Waits and is deeply embedded in the layers of each song. The music drags forward like feet of clay as the music floats like melted lead with the guitars pouring out basic riffs and solos and dragging the sticky melody in all directions. From start to the end, the song has morphed into Atmospheric Doom Metal.
As with all their albums, there is the string “section”, a cello, and a violin. For the next two songs, those sometimes dominate the soundscapes, especially on ”Our Nocturnal Love” where the heavy guitars and drums lay a solid melodic foundation for the cello, violin, and piano to lift the beautiful melody higher. It purveys a sense of a classic piece of music done by a Doom Metal band. On ”Tomorrow Mourning”, the strings open the song and are perfectly embedded in the slow melodic riffs. The instruments shift effortlessly to take the lead and are connected to each other. The cello and violin are perfect instruments to give an extra dimension to the Atmospheric Doom as they add a beautiful ethereal soaring sensation to the music. This song also has an amazing way to intertwine the guitars as they sometimes fight for attention with a clean sound before they rise up to a long riffing crescendo with versatile guitars that drift in and out of the sonics supporting the ethereal growls before the soundscape again is dominated by the strings.
”In April Darkness” is a journey through floating elongated music with mingling guitars and strings building grand Atmospheric soundscapes just to let it sink down to the lowest and slowest and nearly airlessly deep Doom. When they reach the bottom, the music rises to an endless crescendo where the instruments collect themselves around the musical theme that slowly is pushed forward by the rhythm section. Do we hear church bells far away? When that crescendo fades away, the piano and the strings end the song with the still ethereal growling vocals.
This leads us to the close-to-mystical song ”The Sun The Moon And The Truth” where a dark choir opens the song accompanied by an underlying fuzzy guitar before the band slowly unfolds the canvas with piano, drums, deep-end bass and distorted atmospheric riffs. The vocal is floating in the atmospheric sonics creating an endless, cinematic soundscape. The music is alluring and beautiful as they create very dark and slow-seeping melodies. The harmonies fade away to be overtaken by prolonged slow riffs, eventually lifting the violin and cello into the sonics.
”Pictures of Endless Beauty Copper Sunset”, with a sad-sounding violin supported by deep end cello, is the last song on the album. Before the heavy riffs are entangled in each other. The almost ten minutes long song lets the musicians develop this beautiful piece with the full use of all the instruments. It is built around a wonderful melodic theme and the instruments and vocals take turns to express the theme from different angles while, in the end, collectively rising the atmospheric ending until it fades away.
The album started with heavy Doom Metal riffs, guided us through intense sentiments of melancholic emotions, and ended with extended cinematic Atmospheric Doom sonics. It makes you long for the next installment of this trilogy from a band that has re-defined Doom Metal once more.