Source: Grizzly Butts
I’ve been a fan of these guys from the earliest days of Runemagick‘s melodic black/death metal to their transition towards death/doom and even a short foray into creepy Electric Wizard worship. While they were always inspired and hugely productive in the recording studio, I don’t feel like they were allowed to truly experiment like crazy until the final few recordings as Runemagick. Once that group dissolved, Heavydeath began to fester in the form of several jam-based demo recordings. These demos show an amazing evolution as they shaped their style. If you have the time and interest, go to their bandcamp page and listen closely to their sound and concept shaping into what would become their debut ‘Eternal Sleepwalker’. It is a perfectly unique style of spooky doom metal, darkened death/doom and what I’d describe as classic horror psychedelia.
Although I considered ‘Dark Phoenix Rising’ full-length at 38 minutes, ‘Sarcofagus in the Sky’ is the band’s third official full album release. It continues on with the same personality and crawling gloom as previous but the band has taken a less ‘death metal’ approach to this record compared to last year’s ‘In Circles We Die’. They’ve instead opted to focus on sinister mid-paced, trance-like doom pieces they’re becoming known for. The change is subtle and primarily reflected in the vocal style, though it still resembles death/doom in tone most of the time. The major appeal of this project is how organic its conception has been over time. It doesn’t feel like a pompous and forced attempt to revisit the past or galvanize old fans for their new material. Heavydeath really is a naturally occurring passion project that has become more unique and impressive with each revision.
Tracks like “Path to the Altitude” and “The Stone Speaks at Winter” feature blurry guitar effects and creeping basslines that create sprawling atmospheric experiences that manage to avoid reliance on atmo-metal tropes that dominate modern extreme metal. “Autumn of Life” is probably the most pure example of the duo hitting their stride in piecing together tense doom riffs amidst atmospheric narrative. It straddles the line between harrowing death/doom and outsider heavy psych/doom metal. I think the only thing missing from the equation in my mind just wouldn’t fit into their ethos. Faster pacing could break things up brilliantly once in a while; But hey, their use of various production effects, increasingly varied vocals, and steadily improving composition skill are already making for some of my favorite music of the last decade.
Sure the band’s name is silly at first and you might have no love, or no recollection, of the later years of Runemagick but I think a lot of folks are sleeping on this fantastic one of a kind death/doom experience that avoids the abrasive excess of modern death metal. Highest recommendation from me, though I’ve been a supporter of their stuff since the beginning.