On Witnesses, Italian death/doom group (Echo) invite you to step into winter with a head start on the seasonal blues. Their fourth album, coming off a writing and recording whirlwind influenced by Italy’s imposing pandemic lockdown, is hurt. It transmutes pain as a psychological response rather than a bodily reaction to stress. It’s blunt emotionality driven through frank methods. The group leans into the latter half of the death/doom equation as cavernous riffs steeped in mires propel Witnesses. They confine themselves to slower tempos, using airy passages to diversify tracks. As such, the album toys with dynamics rather than speed. There’s a continuous push-pull tension, evident on tracks like“Fate Takes Its Course,” whose graveled vocals and monumental guitar work go to war with its withdrawn bridge.

Witnesses’s take on death/doom is puritan, though that’s evident from the strong guest roster (Echo) drafted. Draconian’s Heike Langhans lends his voice to two of the album’s strongest tracks while Alexander Högbom of October Tide fame aids (Echo) in tearing the record open on “Laudanum.” Don Zaros bathes “Monochrome” and “Chemical” with dismal keyboards as if (Echo) really needed another sorrowful element, but that’s death/doom for you. Stream the record below ahead of its release on Black Lion Records.


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