Slumber - Fallout - Candlelight Records 2005
7 Songs
Running Time: 37:51

Most bands whose only previous recorded output was two barely-distributed demos three years prior wouldn't even be around at this point to tell the tale. And if they were around, it doesn't take much to imagine a night at the bar filled with "what ifs" and "might have beens". Thankfully, this is far from the case with Sweden's newest doom export, Slumber. Instead of throwing in the towel, it seems Slumber has spent the past two and a half years honing what would become Fallout to crystalline excellence.

Being a six-piece band (two pieces of which are keyboardists), one would expect the sound of Slumber to be dense, yet expansive. Expectations are proven to be correct almost immediately upon pushing the "Play" button, as the music of 'Rapture' washes over you in slow, melancholy waves. Vocally, Siavosh Bigonah recalls Paradise Lost's , while the ever present keys bring to mind the early flashes of experimentation found on albums like My Dying Bride's Turn Loose The Swans. Slumber is very much it's own creature, though, and the addition of a second keyboardist makes parts like the last minute and a half of 'Rapture' just that much more captivating. At the 3:16 mark, a 'Kashmir'-tinged drum pattern blends with fluid keys, carrying us to the introduction of a few female voices around 3:44. The music just keeps growing and growing from that point, and by the song's ending at just over five minutes, sounds more symphonious than some of Therion's work. Where Slumber succeeds is in the use of a few female voices instead of a choir, and knowing how to let the music breathe. I don't say this often, but the buildup at the end of 'Rapture' alone makes Fallout well worth the price of admission for fans of the more doom side of metal. For all the epic qualities of Slumber's music, they also know that in order to appeal to more than the hardcore doom legions, you've got to have more than two snare cracks and three droning riffs over the course of a four-minute song. To this end, 'Conflict' fuses a driving rhythm to impeccable guitarwork (courtesy of background vocalist/guitarist Jari and guitarist Daniel), creating a song that - while still very much doom in orientation - doesn't mire itself in the quicksand of "slow for slow's sake". 'Where Nothing Was Left' follows, and continues the same pattern of mid-paced doom, while leaving out the female vocals, which shows a band not reliant on formulaic presentation, or in pandering to the lowest common denominator, recalling the debut from Beseech. Echoes of melodic death can be heard all over the place, as in the crushing 'Distress'. Take heart, though, ye heartless...the melodic death I speak of is about as far removed from fashionable tripe like Children Of Bodom or In Flames as one could be. Think Sentenced, Withering, or Amorphis, and you've got some sort of vague idea. Again, though, the music of Slumber not only manages to stand on it's own, but to rise above the ever-growing army of bands set to capitalize on whatever's currently popular. A solo keyboard gives an abbreviated coda to 'Distress', and sends us into 'Dreamscape', where it is joined by the rest of the band, and takes part in yet another piece of music that takes the best of both aforementioned genres, and molds them into something unique. Fallout is brought to it's end by 'A Wanderer's Star', which concludes with the same female voices that have flitted around the edges of the album, and again make their appearance more known, as in the opening 'Rapture'.

With a debut showing of this magnitude, I'm more than interested to see where the next album takes us. For now, though,
put on your headphones, close your eyes in the darkness, and fall into Slumber.

www.slumber.nu


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