Antithesis of Light

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Much like their music, New Jersey's Evoken tend to operate very, very s-l-o-w-l-y in between albums, and it took them all of four years to concoct and perfect the astonishingly heavy funeral doom dirges heard on 2005's Antithesis of Light. Most will agree it was totally worth the wait, however, as this 70-plus-minute disc filled with relentlessly sluggish ten-minute movements could very well come to redefine the unplumbed depths of the universal doom trench as listeners know it -- such is the utterly lightless, oppressive claustrophobia that is carved out of its songs' cyclopean husks. Evocatively named opener "In Solitary Ruin" inaugurates the listener's passage into darkness on a snail's Bolero-like rhythm, its chiming guitar melodies approximating the tolling of bells as frontman John Paradiso's seismically rumbling throat attempts to replicate the noise of tectonic plates quavering. "Accursed Premonition" adds the sound of hammers striking iron chisels, their stark punctuations echoing out of the impenetrable gloom as a vampire presumably breathes his undead last. Album centerpiece "The Mournful Refusal" briefly takes an unexpectedly uplifting turn via orchestrated synthesizer clusters and a solo piano coda, yet follow-up "Pavor Nocturnus" hurls listeners unmercifully back into deep darkness, as its solitary guitar notes gasp for air amidst an impossibly vast and airless vacuum. Next comes the gentle synth introduction of the title track, which yet again momentarily lulls one into a false sense of blissful peace, then crushes the soul for good with its furious blastbeats and unusual guitar solo runs. These at last preface what is, by now, a much prayed for ultimate demise, delivered at last by the devastating riffs and morbid poetry of closer "The Last of Vitality" -- wow! Take a deep breath at this point, if you can, and rub your frigid hands together until blood circulation resumes, then dive back in for another masochistic run through Evoken's depressingly dark universe. Before you know it, you'll be hooked.

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