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The 11th Hour – Burden of Grief

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It’s not fair. Ed Warby is more coordinated with four limbs than I am with two. He plays guitar better than I do, he sings better than I’ll ever do, and he looks better with a shaved head. The metal gods giveth, and the metal gods taketh away. They hath given unto Ed Warby a hell of a lot.

You may know him as the drummer for Hail of Bullets, Ayreon, and Gorefest. Now he is “everything but the growler” for The 11th Hour. (For growls, he’s hired Rogga Johansson of Demiurg and Ribspreader repute.) And he is flawless at it all. No note is out of place; no performance is weak. This project sounds like a mighty band.

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Its sound fits its name. Burden of Grief (Napalm, 2009) is about a man about to die from a lung disease. (The labored breathing that begins “One Last Smoke” is heart-wrenching.) The term “doom” is apt. Much of what is called “doom” is more like “death”, not in the sense of metal genre, but of feeling. Death is kaput, done, feeding the worms. Doom is future tense, literally — impending, anxiety-inducing. Unlike more extreme variants of doom metal, The 11th Hour, which has a classic, clean singing sound, always leaves something in reserve. It continually tightens the screws. By the end, the atmosphere is practically airless. The riffs are slow, slippery, elusive: always falling down stairs to nowhere.

Not a pleasant feeling, to be sure. Often my life feels that way. But it doesn’t have such a perfectly orchestrated vision behind it.

— Cosmo Lee

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Napalm Records

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