Apathy Noir – Black Soil (Artnoir Productions)

Friday, 9th February 2018
Rating: 8/10

Every bit as bleak and desolate as you’d expect given the grey cover art, Apathy Noir have returned with another outing of deathly doom metal. Multi-instrumentalist Viktor Jonas continues to lead the charge, with aid this time around from vocalist Andy Walmsley (Beyond Grace). This fourth full-length continues to portray the band as one of the strongest bands of this ilk that you probably aren’t listening to.

With bands like Katatonia and My Dying Bride as sonic reference points, there’s not going to be much in the way of upbeat material with Apathy Noir’s latest. But depressive albums such as Black Soil lure you in nonetheless because of that sullen beauty that the best in the genre nail so well. Mournful and reflective guitar lines (see the title track) are to be expected, and are done with a high level of eloquence and emotion. The atmosphere remains palpable whether it’s a moment of crushing heaviness or an Opeth-ian progressive transgression – a feeling of real weight bears down on the songs as they twist and turn through varied dynamics and tempos. A noticeable uptick in this atmosphere has been observed since 2016’s Across Dark Waters, and it combines well with the melancholic lead guitar and near-hypnotic riffing that was a staple of said release. Vocally, Walmsley does a fine job with putting some monstrous growls in the forefront while keeping an emotional resonance to them, adding to the palette with some sound shrieks and clean-ish vocals from time to time.

The perfect type of material for sitting back with on a snowy, winter’s day, Black Soil has plenty of dreary atmosphere to back up the lumbering riffs and emotive roars. Apathy Noir (and Jonas by default) continue to strengthen and progress, providing a graceful and captivating look what the doom genre is capable of.

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