In Glorious Death, you can tell you’re in for something different with this band. In the opening track “Monarch” alone, the drumming and heavily distorted riffs of Christian Raw and Max Vandyke respectively accompany the harsh, brutal vocals of Ryan Casey, and the keys and violin work of Samantha Kempster, who also lends her unique, clean vocal set to the band. They build a sound almost symphonic in its style, but different enough from traditional gothic and doom metal to not be simply passed off as either.
The music is highly atmospheric, made only better by the guttural, lobotomising vocals of Ryan Casey whose style recalls Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth. Both vocalists are different enough though to distinguish from one another in each of their genres. In certain areas on the album, Casey screeches his vocals in a black metal style not unlike the early days of Darkthrone or Mayhem. This usually occurs in the background and is often accompanied by some towering riff courtesy of Vandyke or the clean vocalisation of Samantha Kempster. “Monarch” is a wonderful introduction to not only the album, but to Myraeth themselves, helping to establish themselves as a legitimate act, rather than just an imitation of the likes of Paradise Lost.
Following “Monarch” is “The Tormented”. While the opening riff on this track sounds somewhat recycled from “Monarch”, it soon redeems itself however with a pure slice of symphonic doom. “The Tormented” is a simple track, with Kempster taking much of centre stage in this particular song. It builds the gothic atmosphere to a temporal height without becoming too technical in its placement of Casey’s vocals, as well as Vandyke’s and Raw’s riffs and drumming. The outro is one of the best parts of the track, building such a melancholic, dark atmosphere that you can’t help but get caught up in it.
It transitions beautifully into “Confession”, a much more progressive track than their previous two. The riffs are heavy and droning, and Kempster’s violin sorrowfully trails on after it before the double-bass groove of Christian Raw kicks in. Karl Ebing’s bass work and Raw’s drumming really echo in this song, providing the perfect backing to Casey’s vocals and Kempster’s violin work and vocals. Samantha Kempster in particular though shines on this track with her excellent vocalisation and subtle use of the violin. At around three minutes in, the song slows almost to a crawl as Kempster sings with such passion that you feel the sorrow and conviction in Vandyke’s excellent lyrics.
The next track on the album is perhaps my favourite. Another progressive addition, “Mythology” opens with a simple acoustic riff intro before erupting into a combination of riffs and drum breakdowns. The violin and keys complement the guitars well, and the riff and guitar solo are some of the best I’ve heard in a while. It sounds clean enough to not be too hard on the ear, yet also harsh and atmospheric enough to appeal to the more particular doom metal fan.
“Driftwood”, “Sleight of Hand” and ”Transcendence” keep much the same formula as the rest of the album, yet the consistency isn’t dull. It’s different and intriguing enough to keep your interest, and due to the wonderful production used on the album, each song sounds like it should be there. There is little, if any, filler on this album. Nothing sounds out of place and each song flows into one another, creating a beautiful, memorable experience.
Myraeth possess a wonderful ability on this album to create a unique and different experience. They manipulate many wonderful factors in the genre: breakdowns, progressiveness, clean and distorted guitars, classical violin work, and symphonic keyboard work. The combined guttural and clean vocals of Ryan Casey and Samantha Kempster respectively are also some of the finest I’ve heard in quite a while. While the band isn’t particularly doing anything that hasn’t been done before, they are approaching it in a way that seems fresh and works well for the album.
Being the final track on the album, “In Glorious Death” is a wonderful way to close it, and exhausts the band’s superb repertoire, showing what they are really able to do. Using certain elements in the intro that recall classical music, alongside “The Tormented” and “Transcendence”, “In Glorious Death” is one of Myraeth’s heavily atmospheric tracks with a shredding riff that kicks in once Casey’s guttural cry reverberates. As the subtle, clean vocalisation of Kempster sweeps throughout the song, you’re left with a satisfying end to the album and a feeling that that “darkest night” mentioned in the song’s lyrics has yet to arrive. But that when it does, it’ll surely be a night to remember.
Myraeth certainly comes across as a very veteran act on their first full length album, easily sound as good as their European contemporaries. However, this isn’t peppy, sugary Napalm Records styled Gothic metal, this is far more despondent and funeral doomy in its delivery. This is early Novembers Doom, Saturnus, Swallow the Sun, Officium Triste, The Foreshadowing and their ilk, with some female vocals mixed in. It’s very well done, very well polished and has some rending harmonies mixed in with the loping, despondent tones.
Samantha Krenster is well used but not overly done as she and Ryan Casey’s deep Scandinavian growl compliment each other. She has a sultry, sexy voice that isn’t too operatic or shrill, and keeps things suitably sonorous. And a couple of times (i.e “Driftwood”, ‘Sleight of Hand”, “Transcendence”) I thought she reminded me of Marian Aas Hansen from Fleurety‘s debut album. The music and the riffs are suitably mopey but also pretty hefty, with a nice mix of wilting harmonies and crushing doom aided by a pretty ample production reminiscent of all their European peers. A few perks here and there change things up such as “Transcendence” which adds a few more piano tinkles to the more bluesy proceedings while the outstanding closing title track delivers an up temp closing canter to the despondent throes.
It’s been a long while since I heard an album that did this style, and did it well without veering into pure poppy Goth metal realms. The balance is perfect, being a real beauty and the beast styled album that shows a real level of promise and adds to Australia’s already awesome doom acts.
"I've had a hard time deciding on which side of the Doom border Myraeth stand. Frankly, I'd say both. Their dreadful, somber atmospherics, the heavy use of tragic violin coupled with ethereal female vocals and deep male growls, the mid to slow tempo and soaring leads easily earn them a ticket to the Doom realm. On the other hand, you can't skip those other parts, tightly intertwined with the first ones, where they play fast, combining blasted passages with bouncy grooves; you can't forget the hectic keyboard lines nor those moments when the violin reaches its highest notes, swirling with fury."