Seasons Beatings, Abyss!
Confession time. With exceptions, I'm actually a big fan of the standard Christmas music that is thrust upon us by nearly every terrestrial soft-rock radio station this time of year. Though it often (and inexplicably) begins weeks before Thanksgiving, I'm a total sucker for Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and especially The Carpenters. Laugh all you want but Karen Carpenter had a phenomenal voice.. and was no slouch as a drummer either Nope, not kidding. Head on over to YouTube and type in Carpenters Drum Solo. You can thank me later.
But we have other business to attend to today, loyal Abyss reader. I'm willing to bet that most of you do not share my affinity for the never-ending parade of Christmas jams. Allow me to offer you an alternative- and I really mean alternative- to the CelineBubléMariah monster. Finland's way left-of-center doom outfit Öxxö Xööx just released their third LP, Ý, on November 29th and it's an absolute juggernaut of technical, progressive, avant garde death metal debauchery.
In my not at all vast experience, you rarely find doom shacking up with anything progressive- but somehow ÖX (yep, we're shortening it) have turned odd bedfellows into a crushingly heavy and remarkably engaging baby.
This should not be possible, of course. The very nature of doom, with its elongated, often dirge-like guitars and mid-tempo percussion work does not easily lend itself to the blinding insanity of, say, The Ritual Aura or I, Valiance. Those bands have the luxury of their fans expecting frenetic speed on a 37 string guitar in alternating 7/8 and 3/16 time.
What ÖX have done, somehow, is to weave huge, head-snappingly catchy riffs, outrageously complex time and timing changes and genuinely somber passages into a dark and, uh... weird tapestry. And I am completely hooked.
Not nose-picking-weird, mind you, and I think that's where ÖX are buttering the bread. If you're like me you spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the interwebs for new music to jam... and impress your friends with. NOTE: We never really left High School, did we? Nevermind...
No, what works is Ý's accessibility, seemingly in spite of itself. Nearly every track features multiple vocalists and vocal styles, to include screams, growls, female cleans and even some gothic, Peter Steele-esque bass vocals. Choirs occasionally join in, overtake and then diminish to add additional layers of both discord and melody. The balance between the dark and the light is perhaps this album's greatest achievement.
Linear song structures? Not a one. The shortest track here clocks in over 7 1/2 minutes and each one is a sprawling musical movement, complete with multiple crescendos and disturbing themes that rarely if ever repeat. That's a double-edged sword as some of these one-off riffs are the stuff entire tracks could be made of. Personally, I wouldn't have minded hearing more than a few revisited.
But that's what the replay button is for, right? This was an instant purchase on Bandcamp for me and as Öxxö Xööx has allowed you to name your own price for a digital copy of Ý, owning this album won't break the bank. You can keep up with the band and read their philosophical mission statement, if you will, on their Facebook page. That's also the place to make fun of my complete lack of metal credibility for recommending a Carpenters video to you.
Rage on (merrily)!
Öxxö Xööx- "Lëïth Säë" Song From Ÿ