The reference points for Patrick Walker's emotionally searing, purely melodic brand of doom metal are Justin Broadrick's Jesu project, Bob Mould's bleak rock (à la Black Sheets of Rain), and Michael Stipe's singing at his most nakedly confessional -- though he sounds like no one but himself. Walker's former band, Warning, released one of doom metal's classics in 2006's Watching from a Distance, which created high expectations for any subsequent project. The Inside Room doesn't disappoint. A trio fronted by Walker and featuring engineer William Spong on bass and former Warning drummer Christian Leitch, 40 Watt Sun deliver five songs (ranging from just under seven minutes to nearly 11) that draw on all of his strengths. His protagonists are tortured people; they're literally ripped apart by love, desire, the wish for deliverance, loneliness, and regret. He's unafraid to give them a clear voice, allowing their pain and vulnerability to give them dimension. The pace here is slow to very slow and the guitar is as pronounced as anything in the doom or metal genre, without all the jive, "evil for it's own sake" or faux gothic clichés for lyrics. "I can't see my way when shame is covering my eyes" are the opening words in the album's first track, "Restless." As Leitch's drums plod, accenting each sung line, Spong's bassline adds an element of danger to the clarity in Walker's voice. His guitar lines, from one snail-like chord to the next, reveal the coiled power of chaos that lies just under the surface of his character's frailty. The riff in "Open My Eyes" is spun out one layered, distorted string at a time, with well-placed rim shots and a steady thrumming bassline. The protagonist seeks to express his gratitude to his beloved, all the while seeking to pull her from sinking under the same emotional depths she's pulled him from previously. A subtle second melody creates another series of tensions as the singer finds himself powerless to help affect this change. "Between Times" is the most representative doom tune here, with its words "Carry me over between times/In your red room on quilted blankets/Laying awake in this low light." The gorgeous lyrics (printed in the booklet) are murkier on "Carry Me Home," wrapped in a blanket of fuzz and melancholic menace. "This Alone" is seemingly pastoral in contrast to the rest, but its twinned guitars and basslines underscore the funereal pace of Leitch's drums. It rings, on and on, seemingly forever, even as Walker's voice expends itself, professing love even as it expresses terrible loss and projects total loneliness. The Inside Room is almost monstrously great even as it pushes doom metal to its margins and over them.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek