The good news: you are Indiana Jones. The bad news: Granule is the ball rolling towards you, and you will be flattened.
Why would you even want to listen to Death/Doom?
Why would you even want to listen to extreme metal either? At least the other species of extreme metal come with their set of excuses. Death Metal? I’m in it for the technicality. Black Metal? I’m in it for the hipsterdom/misanthropy/atmosphere. Metalcore? I’m in it for the bro-moshing. Grindcore? I’m going to be a medical student. But Death/Doom? There are so many friendlier metal relatives out there: Stoner Metal is its gregarious cousin. Traditional Doom is its melodic grandfather.
But there are good reasons to listen to Death/Doom. Perhaps because it’s the most meditative of all metal genres, maybe even the most meditative genre in music. The huge guitar chords create massive amounts of space where you can focus on the sounds in real time. However, unlike, say, Stoner Metal, it is not hypnotic. I don’t feel lulled. I can’t drift through the repetition. It’s the harsh vocals, they pull me back to earth. The pained tones remind me that meditation is not an escape from the world. The world has beauty, but the world also has suffering in it that can’t be ignored. Death/Doom is a highly refined, acquired taste combination of in-the-worldness and out-of-this-worldness.
Now, to the untrained ear, all Death/Doom is going to sound similar. But Granule, while having both feet, hands, and everything else in the boat of Death/Doom, do pull in elements from other genres. Those vocals? While harsher than your second grade teacher, they come more from hardcore than death metal (though the singer has got his death rattle voice as well. The second guitarist? He goes in for some psychedelic soloing at times. Though with the planet sized distortion of the rhythm guitar, the soloing can’t help but sound like a satellite. The drummer? This rocker is certainly not content to plod. He’s got ambition and tom drums, and he’s not afraid to use both (apologies on assuming they are “he’s.” I always love to hear women in metal because it’s too rare). “Lament” shows the breadth of this pummeling beast. The non-groove of the drums is more of a riff than the guitars. And on “G.O.Y.A” he does the unthinkable on a death/doom song: he dials the drumming all the way up to common time. Shocking, I know, but don’t worry, the bpm is still around 100.
Now, while “G.O.Y.A.” and “Lament” are two terrific slabs of gravity inducing metal, “Silver Haze Mountain Pt. 2” is something different. Anyone who thinks that music can’t tell a story without lyrics (or at lyrics that can be deciphered) needs to listen to this song. As I hear it, the song starts in civilized society. The vocalist sounds like a manic preacher, riling up his villagers into hating some undefined evil. He leads the villagers up the titular mountain to destroy something. A dragon, a witch, a demon, something that threatens his vision of good order in society. The drums are relentless, pressing the villagers further and further up the mountain. The tension builds the higher they climb. Then they meet the monster. All of their clamoring and hatred has awoken the beast. We get a slow creeping riff that reeks of monstrosity and the vocalist switches to his deep death metal vocals. In horror, faster riffing ensues as the battle erupts. The riffage is constantly derailed by the blasts of feedback. Casualties among the villagers. The song doesn’t stop until the villagers are annihilated and perhaps the monster too, who knows.
Whatever survivors there are appear on the final track, “Whale Song”. It takes up the haunting tone of the intro, but instead of apprehensive, it is mournful. Female vocals take the lead, surveying the wasteland that is the aftermath of the previous track’s battle. It is a beautiful song that is not metal in the least. It stands on its on, but is much more profound because of the destruction that preceded it.
Granted Death/Doom is always going to have a limited audience, but Aurora may just be your gateway.