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Zolfo - Descending Into Inexorable Absence review

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Band: Zolfo
Album: Descending Into Inexorable Absence
Style: Doom metal, Sludge metal
Release date: May 2024

01. Last Layers
02. Lament Of The Light
03. No Home For An Eternal Wayfarer
04. Admire The Mire
05. Apoptosis
06. Silence Of The Absolute Absence

Do you suffer from the urge to be crushed to metaphorical death by some suffocating, sludgy, doom metal? 9 out of 10 doctors recommend Zolfo!

Now, Zolfo isn't the typical type of medicine that relieves pain—it inflicts it. But, if you're like me (a sociopath totally normal metalhead) and you enjoy the sounds of human suffering in your music, then Zolfo’s Descending Into Inexorable Absence is just what you need to satisfy that morbid craving.

The album begins with a short, 3-minute track that establishes a dark, heavy, and depressing soundscape, supported by the haunting, melancholic playing of a saxophone. The next track, “Lament of the Light”, follows an approach that is repeated for the rest of the album: with the lumbering gravity of funeral doom mixed with the dirty grime of sludge metal, the guitar riffs and percussion create a slow-paced yet immensely destructive rhythm, as if some Lovecraftian titan were dragging its tectonic weight across the surface of the Earth, annihilating every lifeform in its path.

The impressions of the album may vary based on a person’s surroundings while listening. In my personal case, I had the joy of blasting this album while sitting on a bench underneath a tree. As the first calm notes of the song “No Home For An Eternal Wayfarer” trickled in, dark clouds began to approach overhead and the wind picked up speed. Suddenly, I felt the soft touch of raindrops filtering through the tree branches. As the storm grew in might, so did the rain—and the doom metal in my ears to meet it!

The megaton instrumentation would be impressive on its own, but it also could get quite tiresome after a while. Yet, Zolfo's true highlight is revealed in the entertaining vocal performance. With piercing, anguished shrieks and craggly moans, the singer sounds like he's channeling the final, desperate cries of humanity as a monstrous titan (the same guy from the previous metaphor) crushes the Earth in its wrathful grip. The vocals reach a truly insane culmination on the track “Apoptosis”, where the tempo ramps up and the vocalist provides an entertaining back-and-forth of deep gutturals, clean yells, and blackened rasps.

Overall, Zolfo’s combination of trudging riffs, smashing percussion, and vocals of palpable suffering are all excellent ingredients that should satisfy any fan of doom-sludge. Still, the album can seem overly long with its 1-hour runtime. “Apoptosis” delivers such a powerful punch in the face, that the album could've ended right there. Instead, the album only concludes after another whopping 18 minutes, which could be considered as unnecessary overkill. Still, the 18-minute closer “Silence Of The Absolute Absence” is definitely worth a listen and provides a fittingly monumental ending to the album.

The other problem that arises here is that the formula of slow, heavy musicianship and pained vocals becomes quickly repetitive, making it difficult to distinguish similar-sounding tracks and thus challenging to pick stand-out moments. The saxophone appearing on the first track and the crazed, multifaceted singing on “Apoptosis” are really nice touches to make the musicianship more varied. Yet, there are far too few of these special moments to spice things up, and, to be honest, I was disappointed to not hear the saxophone make another appearance after the intro track.

Zolfo’s style of devastating sludge-doom is quite similar to that of Thou, who, incidentally, released their newest album Umbilical just one week later. These recent albums of both bands are also of similar high quality, even though they have different strong suits. While Thou are lethal with their intensity in short, fast-paced songs, Zolfo go for a slow-burn approach, building up their momentum and developing an immersive atmosphere with longer songs. I'd say that Thou’s songs have the advantage of presenting more variety in their pace and overall approach. However, Zolfo’s vocals are so impressively, horrendously expressive that they might even have an edge over Thou’s effort this year. As a result, Zolfo’s Descending Into Inexorable Absence is definitely in the running for the title of heaviest album of the year.

Written on 06.06.2024 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.

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