Although they have been around for the best part of six years, 'A Discouraged Believer' is the debut full-length release from depressive doom/death Metal quintet Decembre Noir from Thuringia, Germany.
The care, consideration and deliberation spent on this release is apparent from the first listen, there is a polished finish and the tracks are melody rich and awash with pain filled dark emotions.
The album features seven melancholic, emotion rich compositions that will draw you into their dark gloomy web, with hints at influences from Paradise Lost, notably in some of the chord patterns, the doom laden dark atmosphere of My Dying Bride and even a nod to Daylight Dies, I thought, within the melody. The theme behind the album is a story of the uncertainty experienced by a disturbed, confused and disheartened soul.
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The vocals are huge, powerful and well delivered, dominating the tracks and ranging from a deep tortuous growl that expands into a death drenched roar when necessary, all the way to melancholic, brooding, spoken vocal.
The drum work also made a positive impression on me, it's heavy, dense and oppressive when needed and at other times subtle. There no faulting the guitars either, delivering plenty of well placed powerful dark, chugging riffs and melancholic melodies.
Consisting of seven tracks, spanning forty-seven minutes, all of which have a beautiful and dark flow to them, taking you on a grim journey, I don't have any favourite track on this album; all are much of the same quality and consistency. The album opens with 'A Discouraged Believer' with its chugging opening rhythms and the powerful opening line: "Darkness, Emptiness, Ruthlessness, I walk through a storm inside my soul", which made the hair in the back of my neck stand on end.
'Thorns' opens with a beautifully bleak atmosphere and melancholic guitar led intro, expanding out to an oppressive yet melancholic groove and the vocals, a well balanced mix of spoken and harsh.
'The Forsaken Earth' I thought had hints of 'Daylight Dies' in the mix of chugging riffs and melody. On the track, 'Decembre Noir' a military style drum beat precedes spoken opening vocals while 'Stowaway 'is the album monster, at ten minutes in duration, allowing time for a brooding build, although it doesn't feel that long; a wonderfully haunting and bleak track.
'Resurrection' is more up tempo to open than its predecessors but still maintains a bleak, dark atmosphere with a haunting repeat that winds through the track. Melancholic rhythms are mixed with chugging riffs on final track, 'Escape To The Sun', the only aspect of the whole album that I wasn't keen on were the midway way cleans and backing female vocals on this track; they grated on me a bit but everything else is excellent.
'A Discouraged Believer' was produced, mixed and mastered by Alex Dietz (Heaven Shall Burn) and Eike Freese at Project Mayhem and would certainly appeal to fans of early Opeth, Katatonia, October Tide, My Dying Bride.
'Decembre Noir' may walk a well worn path with 'A Discouraged Believer' but they do so with a great deal of finesse. A superb album.