Counting Hours – The Will (The Vinyl Division)

Sunday, 25th October 2020
Rating: 9/10

The worship and subsequent execution of the classic Katatonia Discouraged Ones sound is something not taken lightly ‘round these parts, or, for this particular webzine. Being that Discouraged Ones is a melancholic metal tour-de-force whose atmosphere cannot be replicated, it warms the heart to see bands like Finland’s Counting Hours adapt the sound, then stretch it farther than Katatonia did. The Finns are loaded with pedigree — current and former members of Rapture, Impaled Nazarene, Shape of Despair and The Chant dot their ranks. While it’s not always a guarantee that a band with such an ensemble will deliver, Counting Hours most certainly have on their debut album, The Will.

The Will snaps up three songs from the band’s rather excellent 2017 debut demo — “To Exit All False,” “Savior” and “Buried in the White.” The trio has been updated and re-arranged, subsequently breathing new life into songs that were already formidable in their down-cast, four-on-four, guitar-layering execution; i.e. “To Exit All False.” The album’s real gems are “Atonement,” a mesmeric escapade into the jaws of harmony-entrenched dark metal; “Blank Sunrise,” which dips its toes into the icy waters of mid-’90s Scandinavian metal and the wistful “Among the Pines,” which finds vocalist Ilpo Passela (he of The Chant fame) working his cautious, but soothing clean vocals to maximum effect.

Dark, melancholic metal is no different than any number of metal’s subgenres — a genuine re-enactment of the past will always score points if the songs are there. It is not a reach to say there is not a dud among the nine songs that comprise The Will. In fact, it’s one of 2020’s best full-length debuts, if not the best.