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Weeping Sores’ “False Confession” is Death-Doom Most Beautiful and Devastating

weeping sores

I, Voidhanger’s unquestionable presence in extreme metal continues unabated with Weeping Sores‘s debut record False Confession. The album is admittedly much less avant-garde than the rest of the fair from the label this year, a far cry from the primitivist folk of Onkos or the abstract psych-prog black metal of Esoctrilihum. That said, Weeping Sores earn their place among the incredible output of groups like Epectase and An Isolated Mind not by avant-garde tendency but a fine attention to craft, turning in a death-doom record that simultaneously eschews the more cartoonish stereotypes of the genre while also deeply embracing certain necessary fundamental components of its two primary compositional spaces.

Take, for instance, the presence of death metal on the record. The group does not arrive at death-doom on this album merely via deep growled vocals and occasional nasty guitar tone; instead, primary instrumentalist Doug Moore makes sure to include certain rhythmic passages, a tighter, almost thrashy chug at times, in combination with an absolutely filthy guitar tone to solidify the connection to death metal. Likewise, the doom isn’t the overly-polished post-epic doom direction that a great deal of the unnamed-but-cartoonish and overbearing death-doom and gothic doom bands deploy.

Instead, Weeping Sores crafts something closer to classic Paradise Lost or early Anathema, clearly developing from a post-Autopsy/Morbid Angel sense of increasing the potency of the death metal via atmospheric touches and sense of pacing rather than a purely speed-based sense of aggression.

The choice of violin for the record may not be quite a bizarre one in 2019, when avant-garde electronic soundscapes, industrial flourishes, flutes, saxophones, and more have found a common and recurrent home in extreme music, but it nonetheless still provides the ambiance needed for a record like False Confession. The cover of the album is rich and full of color, a choice that reflects well the contents of the record and one that the violin contributes well toward. They are used sparingly but frequently, not occuring over every inch of the record but having moments and harmonies on nearly every song, much the way that solo sections of techy instrumental passages might be used by other bands.

Violinist Gina Eigenhuysen is tasteful in her deployment and keen in her timbral choices, leaning away from the cliche of whining melodramatic weepy strings in favor of the broad and patient stroke that brings out the breathe and woodiness of the instrument. Her use of the instrument achieves the sorrowful and tremendously doomed affect necessary for this kind of metal not be melodramatic leaning directly on it but by trusting that the sense of air a keen and patient melody played well on a good violin can bring.

This sense of compositional trust and development is mirrored in Pyrrhon, the avant-garde/progressive death metal band that drummer Stephen Schwegler and bassist/guitarist/vocalist Doug Moore are also in. In both instances, the groups in question arrive at their final sound not by choosing a final destination and making compositional choices that lead them there, a path which is fine aesthetically for beginner composers but ultimately gives work a tired sense of pastiche and playing to cliche. Instead, you can hear the small choices and influences add up, a 1980s Metallica rhythmic flourish on the guitar here, a breathe-filled bellow pulled from Autopsy there, the 1970s prog-influenced song structures of peak My Dying Bride everywhere.

As a result, the final form feels both more organic and more authentic, a form arrived at not by conscientious decision but the natural synthesis of elements.

It makes sense, then, that a genre as unfortunately stale as death-doom would have a record appear on I, Voidhanger, a label more known for adventurous and experimental offerings; Weeping Sores have gone out of their way on this debut album to make sure that the music is of sound and progressive quality before something as banal as achieving the genre form. “The Leech Called Shame” almost feels closer to the post-metal infused avant-garde death metal of Ulcerate than something by Novembers Doom, a broad and satisfying approach to the material that is maintained over the course of the record. The only strong criticism that can be leveled at the record is there is little in the way of a clear standout track, some undeniable song that can be foisted on unbelievers to convert them. If the group continues, however, those tracks will come; as an album-experience, False Confession is a fine record, one that exemplifies why these players are so valued.

And, hey, a progressive death-doom metal record that earns its lavish and colorful cover and doesn’t feel cheesy? That’s a victory.

False Confession releases tomorrow via I, Voidhanger.

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