Symptoms of Sickness: S/T

Black and doom is a beautiful combination. It's a great medium to channel melancholy and wrath with deep, resonating growls, heart-wrenching riffs, and moments of infinite suffering. It sounds easy to accomplish but by the small number of black/doom bands out there that have become successful, it really is not. Fortunately for you, it seems Symptoms of Sickness, a one man band originally from Sweden and now in Portland, Oregon has constructed a pretty good creation with his self-titled album and accomplishing what other black/doom bands cannot.

 

Symptoms of Sickness is seven songs long and was entirely crafted by Elnefial, the man behind Symptoms of Sickness. He did the art, the mastering, engineering, all the instruments, producing, and the vocals which is really, really impressive. The overall sound is very Swedish in origin and is reminiscent of Dissection with that cold, blackened sound but Symptoms of Sickness is less melodic and more doom-oriented.The album begins with the longest track, “There Shall Be No Forgiveness” which is the standout. It starts with ambience and doom-laden chords and eventually crashes into great black metal riffage and drumming and follows this pattern throughout the song. Normally this would play out as boring pretty quickly but Elnefial fills it with interesting additions that spice it up and make you want to come back for more.

 

 

“With Grey Wings He Falleth” takes on a more enchanting tone with a slower tempo, haunting orchestrations, and menacing vocals. The guitars begin to suffer here with pretty plain riffs that many other doom bands have already used. The same problem lingers during “A Display of Disgrace” up until halfway through the song and quickly turns around and gets really catchy but all of a sudden the buildup dissipates as the song ends too quickly. “The Ominous Pattern” holds nothing back, skips the doom, and brings on the black and gets pretty interesting. During the initial listen, there was a moment of extreme cheesiness as the lyrics sounded like “you will have your fireball death” leading one to believe that the first three songs were a farce and this album was destined to be a third-rate product by someone who takes black metal too seriously. Thankfully, the lyrics were actually “viable death” rather than “fireball death”. It was a funny moment that had to be shared.

 

The best part of the entire album is “The Failure of Reverence” parts I - III. For whatever reason, part III is before part I so recognize that that is indeed not an error and you are not hallucinating. Anyway, these songs are full of dark ambience, melodic riffs, and well-done orchestrations. Part II, the last song on the album, is by far the best and is reminiscent of Swallow the Sun, one of the best death/doom bands in the field. The orchestration halfway through the song is Elfeniel’s best work and his melodies strike at the heart of the listener with melancholy but with enough attitude to not be some "sissy" gothic metal song. Sadly, it quickly ends making you think the album is over as there are five-ish seconds of silence and then it builds up once more with a minute left with pure instrumental doom and then the album actually ends.

 

Symptoms of Sickness is an impressive debut that manages to do an equal combination of both black and doom and is made more impressive that Elnefial did this all by himself. While some of his choices in the arrangement of the songs is questionable, he is a fantastic musician and his product is worthy of praise. Give this man your money and spread the word because there is a new player in metal.

 

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Written by Cole Olson

Symptoms of Sickness: S/T
Self-Released
4 / 5