Supergroups are a risky proposition. Sure, hearing a bunch of your favorite people from all of your favorite bands getting together may sound like a great idea, but usually that idea falls far short of expectations when music gets released. This is further compounded when the music they write sounds nothing like the bands they consider their main bands. This is where Bereft finds itself. Featuring such people such as Sacha Dunable (Intronaut), Charles Elliott (Abysmal Dawn), and Derek Rydquist (ex-The Faceless), and Derek Donley (National Sunday Law), it’s definitely a dream grouping, even if it’s a little odd, however, their album Leichenhaus sounds nothing like their bands. This, my friends, is doom metal. But can it stand on its own two feet, without the star power reputation that its members have?
First off, I must reiterate: clear your mind of any ideas that this will be some fast/technical hybrid of Intronaut and The Faceless/Abysmal Dawn. You will be sorely disappointed. This is definitely slow, as is the norm with doom metal. Needless to say, it certainly accomplishes the atmospheric part. When listened to in whole (the songs segue into each other), it certainly puts you in a dark place. The heaviness is certainly welcome, and it fits with the mammoth concept of death, as dealt with other cultures. The album is split into two parts: the first involving a mortuary where bells would be placed in case someone was accidentally claimed to be dead, and the second involving the concept of sky burial, a practice where the bodies would be hung in the air for animals to eat, thus continuing this circle of life.
Musically speaking, the guitar duo of Elliott and Dunable really mesh well together, whether that’s in one playing above the other note-wise or with one creating atmosphere and the other playing under it, as in The Cold Orchestra. This particular song is heavy as fuck, starting with a buildup and then a quick kick to the head. This also features the whole band taking vocal duties, as if every one of them is impacted by what’s happening. The entire album builds up to the penultimate song, “Ethereal Dispersal”, which starts off with a hopeful tone to it. It then gets into the doomy goodness we’ve heard up to this point, going into ritualistic drone vocals, then Rydquist’s bass almost suffocates the listener – in a good way. It then continues this almost hopeful tone set in the beginning of the song, further symbolizing this concept of rebirth. The album ends with “And You Are but a Thought” which is an almost immediate kick in the sternum. It then goes into more atmospheric drone with some odd audio samples in the background. The music certainly reflects the concept, and that’s fantastic.
That said, this album is not bereft (no pun intended) of criticism. The drone goes on for a little too long, even by doom standards. Furthermore, many of the vocals are not really understandable, and that’s sad, considering how good the lyrics and concept are. I feel as if some more clean vocals would serve the concept well here, to add more depth to the music. It just seems to be lacking…something.
Overall, this album is great. It certainly is different from many other doom albums, particularly from this new wave of doom that has seem to have recently come to light (Pallbearer, Loss, etc). Bereft does make a bold claim for the doom band to look out for, and I feel as if this will be further seen on the second record. I will say this: it does not disappoint. My complaints are incredibly minor in regards to how good this album is. Just don’t expect something fast. This is something you’re gonna wanna listen to a few times to get.
1. Corpse Flower (instrumental)
2. Mentality of the Inanimate
3. Withered Efflorescence
4. The Coldest Orchestra
5. A Cruel Mirage
6. Ethereal Dispersal
7. …And You Are But A Thought (instrumental)