Review: Masterfully paced music unfolds its choreographies in chant rhythms and distant harmonies while maintaining impossibly slow speeds and repeating riffs and patterns in slowly evolving puddles of sound, then changing mood rapidly to a different riff and different flow, but same liquidity. So slow, very slow, with keyboards washing up behind the (simple but not utterly linear) riffs, power chords abrading each other behind the electronic curtain of slickness. Drums are mostly the pounding of the tom or selective percussion effects for dramatic purpose, and bass guitar remains indistinguishable from the grating six-string sound.
Skepticism fails to break any epic or progressive ground with these simple songs and often only creates successfully mellow background music which moves like the soundtrack to a Roman war movie, a dragging rhythm and melodic simplicity. Trudge beats and long pauses of silence of fading keyboard leave a further ambience suspended around the record; everyday rhythms seem out of place, too alive, too fast in comparison to this gauntlet of dirge. Riffs are simple elements that break apart to form a song in a pace extruded to leave the impression of complexity in iteration, but one of the better parts of the rhythm is the utterly low and rolling voice that breaks forth in proclamation pace over the normal riffing.
Without a long attention span you will be lost for this album, but your long attention span must be sufficiently short to enjoy the simple elements of a large composition. It is fair to say this music should be taken as an album and not song by song, as each tune tends to flow into the next through ambient noise and dark silence. The illustration here is inexactly cut because it is distinguished by obscurity and vagueness in the music rather than by definitive statement; intensely romantic and wistful, this music pauses on each consideration like a chewer of an emotional mouthful of brief patterns. Not bad for doom metal so slow it would be relegated to suicide soundtrack.
Production: Lush texture that separates into sonic topography.
Review: Like ocean swells at storm, the dirges of Skepticism rise as layers fall away and descending, accumulate contrary currents into a morass of vectors harmonized around the inevitable sine wave of their inverted curls, plunging but never depleting their energy as from scattered eddies a pulse rises again, recrystallizing the different currents into a new shape. Hinting at the origins of metal in competing with church music and finding inspiration in the theatrical soundtracks of horror movies, these songs collage glacial guitar chords with organ and lightly adroit lead rhythm melodies, using repetition to create prismatic sigils of poetic meaning assembled in the brain of the listener.
Moaning, deconstructed, and basso rasping vocals comment from a distracted rhythm while guitars lead with chords strummed in cadence or strung in melodic sequences, creating a dark mood that surges into rhythm changes, emanating a sense of cycles augmenting themselves in the purest Pagan definition of process, smashing any sense of progress into a primordial wilderness of emotions unleashed against one another. Protean melodies slip between the chokepoints created within them by incompatibilities between riffs, permuting to insert a demi-synthesis and rise above yet again; momentum builds before slowness can inundate itself, separating the dirge ballads of Skepticism from the droning linear cyclic repetition that is popular among less considered doom bands.
Often three melodies are at work at once, as keyboards pluck notes from the thunderous backwash of distorted guitar, while another guitar nimbly interlaces a lead melody through the harmonic space created like fish jumping through a waterfall, each changing in sequence so that as the song rotates between its elements added in staggered order to produce layers a new direction emerges from the collision of past forays. Diversity of riffing remains high, with walking pace doom riffs and black metal stall-rushing modal stripes rubbing against updated versions of the bounding motives of English sea shanties. They meld together into a voice through the interplay between layers that reinterprets the overall direction so that it can rise again out of itself. Sporadically an offhand guitar comments, then slides into noise for the pure texture of timbre, trailing off.
Easily some of the best work from Skepticism, this album maintains the intense mood of their first but adds to it the fascination with emergent complexity in simple pieces that marked later works, but here a more facile sense of songwriting centered on constructing a tunnel of symbols into which the listener relaxes disbelief and then finds the path turning as it evolves, eschewing the progressive linear for the dynamic dimensionality of an eternal churning of creation and destruction like a cycle of breathing. While both downsides of doom -- melancholy melody and repetition -- are present, they are bent in service to a vision of beauty forming from chaos that destroys the archaic before it, in order to rebirth a force as old as the universe in a new incarnation, reawakening the world to its potential through a majestic seriousness feared by the facile evasion of modern minds.