Death the Leveller – II (Cruz Del Sur Music)

Thursday, 19th March 2020
Rating: 9/10

Back in 2017 this Irish epic doom metal band Death the Leveller came out with a self-titled EP of crushing material – combining elements of Primordial, Grand Magus, and Solitude Aeturnus beyond aspects of Slough Feg and Black Sabbath. So it’s little surprise that they jumped up to Cruz Del Sur Music for the follow-up II – serving up four more lengthy tracks of emotionally-driven melancholy metal that feature sweeping traditional/cultural elements, poetic /symbolic lyrical content, and this churning, collaborative connection between the musicians and their followers.

The contrasts occur song to song – occasionally reflective and sparse with calmer, clean guitar strains against softer bass/drum combinations during “So They May Face the Rising Sun” that build upward and onward through electric doom harmony combinations for singer Denis Dowling to reach back and belt out his heartfelt melodies with extra verve. Or guitarist Gerry Clince holding out a key bend and supplying circular rhythm underpinnings for opener “The Hunt Eternal” that set up a haunting, cinematic experience before the crux of the doom riffs and vocals take over in that slithering, snake charmer-ish manner. Considering three of the four tracks eclipse nine minutes – with “The Golden Bough” the longest at 12:05 – Death the Leveller are adept at creating small aural hooks and twists that maintain interest which can be challenging at resting heartbeat tempos. These four musicians take a lot of their cultural heritage, put out that creative spark in many of the musical/vocal passages, and in turn deliver material that is epic doom metal but of their own make and model.

Exploring mortality from a deeply personal and introspective viewpoint, the listeners will have just as much internal wrestling to treasure from the words as they will from the heavy and calm musical components on display. II continues Death the Leveller’s examination of what the doom metal genre means to them – and should be a highlight not just for 2020, but probably for the decade ahead.

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