All Souls' Day - Into the mourning 3.5/5

Reviewed: 7-14-06


1. A breath from the death
2. A mortal day
3. The mourning
4. I feel you inside me
5. At the bell toll
6. Forever
7. The sinner
8. Ancient

You know, it's amazing to me that true doom metal continues to be the red-headed stepchild of the world's heavy metal music scene. Recent years have ushered in a new golden age for classic, traditional heavy metal, along with many subgenres such as power metal, thrash metal, melodic metal, etc. It is said that a rising tide lifts all boats, yet doom metal has been left high and dry in the new millenium's heavy metal renaissance. Sure, the reformed Candlemass have done good business on the European festival circuit for a few years and unleashed a massive comeback CD in 2005, but where are the other genre leaders? Where are the newer bands inspired by Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, early Trouble, and the like? It may be an enigma wrapped in a mystery, but the unavoidable fact of the matter is that true doom metal gets no love, and is instead overshadowed by that stoner rock crap.

In light of the dire circumstances that this one-proud niche is experiencing, we here at Metal CD Ratings do our best to spotlight worthy new epic doom bands that come along from time to time. There aren't many of them. Previously we've covered Italy's Thunderstorm and Puerto Rico's Dantesco, and Malta's Forsaken will be afforded similar treatment as soon as we track down their elusive new CD; however, All Souls' Day have the potential to ascend to the head of the class. Remarkably, these Italians' debut CD, 'Into the mourning', was recorded back in 2001, but never saw the light of day until 2005 when the newly-launched Doom Symphony (a division of the well known Underground Symphony imprint) label finally released it. And praise the Gods that they did, because this is one of the most promising epic doom CDs I've heard in years.

The obvious point of reference here is Candlemass, as Leif Edling's band of dirge-dependent Swedish doom-dancers permeate almost every aspect of All Souls' Day's work. Many of Andre Picchi's leaden guitar riffs could have been penned by Edling. (In fact, I think some of them were written by Edling, as a couple of riffs caused me to start singing "Well of souls," "Under the oak" and the like.) The melodies, the arrangements, and the epic vibe all scream Candlemass, and those who worship at the altar of 'Nightfall' or 'Epicus doomicus metallicus' will find much to delight them here. Vocalist Alberto Caria is no dead ringer for Messiah Marcolin, but he's a very good singer in his own right. With his clear, mournful, expressive tone and surprisingly little accent, Caria is well suited for this music, even if he lacks the charisma of Marcolin or the ungodly talents of Solitude Aeturnus's Robert Lowe. (With some sadness I report that Caria has since split from All Souls' Day. Let's hope that his successor is worthy, because a subpar singer is an insuperable flaw in an epic doom band.)

My primary criticism of 'Into the mourning' is that it's simply too epic for it's own good. After stripping out the 2 largely instrumental interludes, the one-minute "teaser" of a song from the band's forthcoming sophomore CD, and the "hidden track" (more on that in a minute), we're left with just 5 proper songs, ranging in length from 6 minutes to 14 minutes, with 4 of the tracks exceeding 7 minutes and 2 surpassing the 10 minute mark. It takes a truly gifted songwriter to retain a listener's attention for compositions that are that lengthy. Despite an admirable effort, Pucchi doesn't quite pull it off. The CD drags in places and the ponderous instrumental sections, while cool, leave the songs with little identity of their own. For All Souls' Day to reach the next level of their craft, Pucchi must learn to meld this epic doom atmosphere (which he has mastered splendidly here) with sharpened songcraft. My only other criticism is the band's inexplicable decision to include 5 minutes of techno music (I kid you not) at the close of their CD as a "bonus track". Maybe they thought they were being funny. Maybe they genuinely love going to raves and dancing to the funky beat all night long. Either way, this was a terrible decision and an absolute buzz-kill. Between the ill-advised techno foray and the one-minute teaser, I always cut the CD off after track #7 because the remainder is pointless.

Bottom line: There is a new contender in the world of epic doom metal. All Souls' Day have created a solid, pure slab of Candlemass-worshipping doom. If their new singer is as skilled as his predecessor and if the band can refine their songwriting talents, then All Souls' Day's next CD just may be a true landmark in the world of doom.




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