Monday, April 23, 2012

Spirit Descent: Seven Chapters in A Minor (2012)

A Minor What?

A little over a decade ago, I worked in the electronics department of a big-name retail store. That exposed me to a promotional video which included a clip from then-up-and-coming R&B star Alicia Keys, who was getting a lot of attention for her debut Songs in A Minor. Grammar freak that I am, I could never get over that title, reading the "A" as an article and "Minor" as an adjective describing a non-existent noun. "In a minor what?" my brain instinctively screams. Obviously, it actually means they are in the key of A minor, but syntax is embedded deeply in the way my brain works.

The title of Seven Chapters in A Minor drives me just as insane. But other than my weird hangups/neuroses, it has only the key in common with the R&B album. The sophomore release of German doomsters Spirit Descent probably won't be featured on the promotional videos at the big-box retailers any time soon.

The music is a curious example of people from one musical mindset making music in a different style. On a superficial level, it's down-tuned epic doom metal. In keeping with epic doom traditions, the vocals are mostly clean: A straight-forward clean style for the first part of the album and a less-voiced clean style for the latter part. There are also a few falsettos. But the occasional growl is a clue that the people writing the music aren't coming from an epic doom background.

Instead, many of the riffs and melodies seem to be influenced by death/doom, especially early My Dying Bride. This is a strong undercurrent throughout the album, beginning at opener "Dawn of Mankind," but it's perhaps most obvious during the spoken-word portion of "The Tragedy of Captain Scott." There are also more modern inflections, like dissonant atmospheric parts. And the strong, heavy, natural production serves the sound well.

The Verdict:As awesome as that would be, Spirit Descent won't be tearing down dozens of TV sets at your local store. But their annoyingly-titled album is a nice blend of death/doom-inspired epic doom, likely to please fans of either style. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

This review originally appeared on

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