Solemn Sacred Severe

VAN Records 2010

Sweden's new lords of depression have been making waves in the underground with their debut album, Solemn Sacred Severe.  Griftegard's first album is probably the best traditional doom album I have heard since Warning's Watching From a Distance.  And since we are on the topic, these two bands share a stylistic similarity of swaying forlorn riffs and tormented vocals.  Thomas Eriksson's voice is full of equal parts frailty and gravel.  The self-torture begins with Charles Taze Russel.  Its lumbering riffs, like the dragging of shuffling feet, are like slow-motion steps towards a torturous repentance.  Thomas's vocals are so full of anguish and form the central focus of the compositions on the album.  The riffs and pounding drums are a skeleton and his voice is the flesh on this slowly dying corpse.  Up next is Punishment and Ordeal, with its melancholic melodies so full of wavering strength pale in comparison to Thomas's voice.  He takes the lyrics and fills them with newfound levels of misery and regret.  The track's final 4 minutes are barren and delicate clean guitar paired with trembling vocals.  Angelic melodies filled with crowning glory bring to mind Candlemass on the next track, I Refuse These Ashes.  Like the album as a whole, this song is a morose journey, contemplating eternity and the depths of human weakness.  Breaking from the typical song structure of the album is Noah's Hand, church organ provides solemnity while heavenly chant, bordering on Gregorian enhances the atmosphere of spirituality.  More Candlemass comparisons greet you on The Mire, with its mirthful guitar soloing contrasting against thick chugging riffs and soaring vocals.  To listen to Solemn Sacred Severe is to undergo an emotional catharsis as your heart is torn from your chest, for all the world to trod upon it in bitter judgment.  Joy-shattering doom at its finest.