Writing a review about a reissue surely has its own features: it’s a release that fans and supporters are already familiar with so, less hype or juicy anticipations. In this case, I am talking about a reissue on vinyl which, to some extent, speaks mainly to collectors and the so-called ”vinyl enthusiasts,” in an era when listening to music doesn’t require buying albums in physical formats anymore as a mandatory part of the habit, but does make a difference in terms of support to the band and the record label.
The full length ”Alloy,” by the Finnish funeral doom band SKEPTICISM, has been remastered and released on vinyl by Svart Records on 27 March 2020.
Originally released back in 2008 via Red Stream Inc., the album – which is the fourth full length in the band’s career – shows some elements that make it kinda fresh even nowadays, twelve years after its release date.
SKEPTICISM is still considered to be one of the most important and influential bands in the funeral doom subgenre: formed in 1991 in Riihimäki (which, in the late ’80s, used to be ”the Mecca of metal music”), the band gave birth to a unique style, later labeled as ”funeral doom.” The main distinctive feature was, and still is, the use of keyboards like a church organ; on ”Alloy,” however, this specific trait does not affect a general feeling of approachability, which can be detected since the very beginning.
The six songs are fairly slow, starting from the first tune, ”The Arrival.” In fact, it drags the listener into an utterly dark atmosphere, where a catchy yet disturbing melody acts like a proper opening for an unforgettable journey in the maze of the autumnal season (according to the lyrics, the song is about the arrival of autumn).
The second track, ”March October,” sounds even heavier: ten minutes of eerie and creepy combinations of keyboards, monolithic riffs, and deep growls. The spoken-word part breaks the pattern, as much as the guitar solo. The following tune is ”Antimony,” which is immediately reminiscent of some old horror movies’ soundtracks: the obsessive melody performed by all the instruments and vocals at the same time surely increases anxiety levels, as it should be in such a music genre. The different patterns in the song make it quite approachable in its solemnity.
”The Curtain” shows a lighter general feeling, thanks to a more atmospheric organ sound, which proves how different the same band can be even on the same album. The acoustic intro on ”Pendulum” is, in my opinion, an unexpected, unconventional detail that gives the song a unique vibe, without undermining the ritualistic and meditative features of the classic SKEPTICISM’s trademark sound. The last song on the release, ”Oars in the Dusk,” stands as a perfect closure for such a complex yet captivating album, thanks again to the solemnity of the organ sound, which creates a perfect balance along with the slow paced drums and the immersive guitar work.
In the end, the reissue on vinyl of ”Alloy” proves that there are albums meant to be rediscovered, albums a fan would never get tired of, but also able to create new supporters even in such a well established fanbase.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- The Arrival
- March October
- The Curtain
- Oars in the Dusk
Matti Tilaeus: vocals
Eero Pöyry: keyboards
Jani Kekarainen: guitars
Lasse Pelkonen: drums