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Skepticism - Companion review




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Reviewer:
9.0

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Band: Skepticism
Album: Companion
Release date: September 2021


01. Calla
02. The Intertwined
03. The March Of The Four
04. Passage
05. The Inevitable
06. The Swan And The Raven


It is truly an achievement to be one of the godfathers of funeral doom metal, yet still being able to conjure up new sounds that shine true with pride and defiance against death.

The slow, painful march of these Finns started 3 decades ago. With Companion as the band’s sixth album, it is clear that Skepticism values patience, meticulousness, and quality over quantity. Yet each release has been an instrumental part of their long, unique journey. Perhaps one of the key elements to Skepticism’s long success and relevance among their peers is their ability to know exactly what to alter and what to keep or develop further. This fine-tuning has resulted in masterpieces like Farmakon with its mechanical, droning, dark ambient experimentations, and Alloy with its more direct songwriting and grand production. Their debut, Stormcrowfleet, remains one of the most definitive iterations of funeral doom metal, though. It carries a sound that bands are still trying to emulate to this day: the lifeless drums with their devoted, ritualistic beat, the earthly vibe of the whispering growls, the heavily distorted and slow guitars, and of course… those keyboards. No band in doom metal has put so much emphasis on the keyboards as Skepticism, and the massive sound of a pipe organ has always been the most recognizable aspect of their music.

So, how does Companion stack up against the previous opuses? Well, I can safely say that Skepticism isn’t only a band that keeps on giving, but also keeps on growing. I was taken aback at how bright and omnipotent the album starts. The wall of imposing riffs, bombastic drumming and string-like keyboards create a celestial sound, but it is counterbalanced with loud and aggressive growls. It might be Matti Tilaeus’ most powerful performance to date, as his vocals do not sound as whispery and mysterious as on previous releases. Instead, they sound defiant, filled with conviction, and demanding of your attention. This “in-your-face” tone is maintained throughout the whole album, and the production is one of the reasons for that. The guitars in particular carry a very meaty, death metal sound with chugging, dissonant riffs like on “The Intertwined”. The riffs sound particularly dark and ravaging on “Passage”, with its opening section being more than enough to prove that Skepticism can create a very evil atmosphere when they want to.

On these songs, the keyboards know when it’s time to step back and let the riffs carry on with the funeral hearse. Do not worry, though, for when they shine it is with utmost elegance as they nail the genre’s main theme down to a tee. “The March Of The Four” is the perfect reminder of that, with the most mournful of melodies guiding the other instruments through a crescendo of heart-breaking quality. The two minutes of constant evolution that starts at the 4:30 mark makes me feel like my soul has been gently taken away from my body, peacefully carried away to my final resting place. It is without a doubt one of the album’s highlights.

An important aspect to analyze from Companion is how Skepticism manages to re-invent themselves while keeping a foot on traditional ground. This is particularly true on the album’s second half. As the pitch black intensity of “Passage” ends, “The Inevitable” sets new atmospheres with acoustic guitars, faster tempos and one beautifully crafted guitar solo. These sections are impeccably written, and this becomes even more evident by the closing track, “The Swan And The Raven”. The progression throughout the whole track is astonishingly creative. The dramatic neoclassical beginning gives way to heavy riffs that, while still being Funeral Doom Metal in flavor, will most certainly pick up the attention of post-metal/rock fans.

Companion is a deeply touching album and an extremely important statement from the band. It is a culmination of sorts after 30 years of hard work. It showcases the band’s journey through epic and triumphant songs, and solidifies Skepticism’s place up front, apart from the rest of the scene. It is an old, powerful beast that fiercely takes hold of your heart through modern sounds.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9





Written on 25.09.2021 by An extremely lazy reviewer but he's so cute you'd forgive him for it.


Comments

Comments: 10   Visited by: 144 users
25.09.2021 - 21:13
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
*church organ intensifies*
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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26.09.2021 - 23:34
X-Ray Rod
Skandino
This is their third best album, if you ask me. Their debut would always be their best (specially after that sweet remaster). But after more and more listenings this is slowly growing into an album that is just as good as Farmakon. It is a daring album with plenty of experimentation just like Farmakon but goes for brighter tones. It sounds so modern yet respectful of its roots.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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27.09.2021 - 02:59
BitterCOld
The Ancient One
Rod posts this, site goes down for a couple hours... just sayin'.

Great read, have purchased the album and will be checking it shortly.
----
get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
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27.09.2021 - 08:15
Enemy of Reality

The song Passage is worth the price of admission alone. Sure the album is "faster" than previous Skepticism albums, but they remain as relevant as ever.

<--- And this is my 666th post.
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Looks like rain
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27.09.2021 - 11:44
Deadsoulman
Clever text
Ordeal was the first Skepticism album I did not enjoy. I hated the vocals and the production, and the album as a whole felt rather nondescript, so much so I was beginning to wonder whether the band was maybe running out of steam. Well, I'm glad they proved me wrong. Companion is probably less ominous and funeral than its predecessors, but it's also more varied and more powerful, and that's a very welcome innovation. A great album and a great return to form.
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27.09.2021 - 16:22
bleak

Written by X-Ray Rod on 26.09.2021 at 23:34

This is their third best album, if you ask me. Their debut would always be their best (specially after that sweet remaster). But after more and more listenings this is slowly growing into an album that is just as good as Farmakon. It is a daring album with plenty of experimentation just like Farmakon but goes for brighter tones. It sounds so modern yet respectful of its roots.

Do you mean the remaster of 2002?
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28.09.2021 - 18:56
X-Ray Rod
Skandino
Glad to read so many positive comments! Thank you!

Written by BitterCOld on 27.09.2021 at 02:59

Rod poss this, site goes down for a couple hours... just sayin'. Great read, have purchased the album and will be checking it shortly.

An omen, for sure. Looking forward to read your thoughts on the album! The two last songs with their almsot post-vibe are specially intriguing imo. Wondering if I'm delusional for hearing them.

Written by Deadsoulman on 27.09.2021 at 11:44

Ordeal was the first Skepticism album I did not enjoy. I hated the vocals and the production, and the album as a whole felt rather nondescript, so much so I was beginning to wonder whether the band was maybe running out of steam. Well, I'm glad they proved me wrong. Companion is probably less ominous and funeral than its predecessors, but it's also more varied and more powerful, and that's a very welcome innovation. A great album and a great return to form.

I share your thoughts on Ordeal. It was ok-to-goodish. Felt almost by the numbers at times. So I echo your thoughts in how great it feels to be proven wrong. I can totally see this album becoming more and more of a favorite among the fans.

Written by bleak on 27.09.2021 at 16:22
Do you mean the remaster of 2002?

Hi there! I should have used the word "remix" instead of remaster. I meant the 2018 version they put out. They took the original tapes and released the album again as they put it "with better equipment and engineering. I think the riffs really come out in a whole different way. I still lov the original one but you get a lot of more appreciation for the songwriting with the 2018 version.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
Loading...
28.09.2021 - 21:23
bleak

Quote:
Written by bleak on 27.09.2021 at 16:22
Do you mean the remaster of 2002?

Hi there! I should have used the word "remix" instead of remaster. I meant the 2018 version they put out. They took the original tapes and released the album again as they put it "with better equipment and engineering. I think the riffs really come out in a whole different way. I still lov the original one but you get a lot of more appreciation for the songwriting with the 2018 version.

Awesome! Thanks for the info!
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01.10.2021 - 02:51
BitterCOld
The Ancient One
Written by X-Ray Rod on 28.09.2021 at 18:56

Glad to read so many positive comments! Thank you!
An omen, for sure. Looking forward to read your thoughts on the album! The two last songs with their almsot post-vibe are specially intriguing imo. Wondering if I'm delusional for hearing them.


Really enjoyed the album. And you're not crazy, I can hear it in the shuffling rhythm chord structure played around the 5min mark of "The Swan and The Raven".
----
get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
Loading...
01.10.2021 - 23:41
DeliciousDishes
always right
Written by X-Ray Rod on 26.09.2021 at 23:34

This is their third best album, if you ask me. Their debut would always be their best (specially after that sweet remaster). But after more and more listenings this is slowly growing into an album that is just as good as Farmakon. It is a daring album with plenty of experimentation just like Farmakon but goes for brighter tones. It sounds so modern yet respectful of its roots.

Pretty much agree, I really like this one. I didn't think I would from the pre-released tracks, but it really comes together nicely and after a few listens grows a lot.

Interesting that you think the remaster makes the original better, I think it's very subtly worse. Loses just a bit of the muddiness that the original had.
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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