Following the release of their 2017 album Chamber of Horrors, Texas-based doomsters Destroyer of Light return with a brand new two track EP. Hopeless is a noble display of slow burning mastery from a band who, basically put, know how to do really good doom.
There is something decidedly old school about Destroyer of Light’s music. Doom and stoner rock are the perfect marriage, and these guys fuse it on a molecular level. But it’s fair to say that there is also a strong progressive streak. In the space of two songs we get a range of ominous, melodic, heavy, and downright rocking sounds. Long-term fans of the band would expect nothing less, but it’s good to know that their musical methodology remains as sharp as ever.
So here is the formula as I see it: In the first track “Nyx”, we get the emotion, and in the second track “Drowned,” we get the rock and roll. There is a monolithic quality to the opening moments of “Nyx” which leads to some patient foreboding heaviness. There is also an extremely pleasant serenade in the final minutes which one may not have necessarily expected at the start. “Nyx” visits the more haunting side of doom, and navigates listeners through a perilous state of mind and towards a far more tranquil one.
And then the gears change to something a little speedier at second track “Drowned”, where some pounding riffs, meaty shredding and godly choruses take precedence. The solos are a nice juxtaposition to the steady tempo, not always found in doom, but done exceedingly well in this instance. “Drowned” is also one of those songs that one can imagine being extremely impressive to watch live.
The overall sound of this record is extremely well balanced. The guitars and bass have a crunchy and satisfying tone, displaying a mastery of doom metal production. And the lead guitars where they manifest are nice and raw. In any endeavor where the guitar tuning is so damn low, the right kind of production is crucial, and Hopeless serves as a case study of how it is done properly.
But one of my favorite elements is guitarist and singer Steve Colca’s vocals. Colca delivers a wonderfully rich doom voice that’s a kind of cross between Jon Davis of Conan and very early Ozzy Osbourne. There are so many moments where it harmonizes so perfectly with the music that it’s impossible to imagine vocals better suited for this particular band. It actually brings an added element of sombre emotion in to the music, particularly in “Nyx” and the opening to “Drowned”.
Hopeless is proof that one often only needs a handful of ideas to make a really good record. As always with releases of this length, the negative is that you’ll probably want more by the end of the 18-minute journey. But that’s not to say that there is any lack of effort in this EP. Destroyer of Light delivers us a rich, hypnotic journey which shows just how vibrant doom metal can be if done properly.
Notable tracks: “Nyx”
FFO: Conan, Earth, Black Sabbath