There’s been snow on the ground in some form or other for the better part of the last week here in Northern Indiana, and with the historically muddled American version of the Thanksgiving ‘holiday’ coming later this week, it’s pointless to try and pretend any longer. Even though the season doesn’t technically change until the Solstice on December 21, it’s fucking winter.
So let’s talk about depression for a minute.
I’m not specifically referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder here, but that’s certainly one aspect of winter’s glum tapestry. As is the so-called ‘cuffing season,’ and the sort of excessive/borderline self-destructive behavior that’s turned Dry January into a thing. I have a feeling that the recent ‘No-Fap November’ Internet fad was also somehow born from the inherent sadness of the season – a way to keep those unable to ‘cuff’ from falling into an onanistic shame spiral perhaps?
However you want to look at it, this time of year is difficult for a lot of people. The days grow progressively darker and shorter, winter weather can make for treacherous and oft-delayed travel, and simply having to scrape the ice off your windshield in the morning is enough to make a person have a sad. Throw in the myriad stressors that come with the holidays – money woes, having to deal with passive-aggressive family members, those incessant fucking reminders that the holiday season is supposed to be a time of cheer – and it’s no wonder that many people I know (myself included) kind of want to spend the next six weeks or so earnestly attempting to drink ourselves to death…
It’s this time of year in particular that I find myself grateful for music – especially the truly morose genres like depressive/suicidal black metal and funeral doom. It’s a difficult thing to try to explain to people who aren’t used to living with the black dog – how can listening to music so steeped in despair possibly be healthy when you’re already so fucking depressed? My guess would be that everyone who finds respite in this music does so for his or her own reasons. For myself, I find comfort in the way these artists are able to take their anguish and turn it into something beautiful, making their deep and abiding sadness seem redemptive in the process – a brief moment of absolution after a lengthy period of penance for the unknown sin that led to such a forlorn existence.
Moscow’s Comatose Vigil A.K. are well acquainted with despair. Originally formed in 2003 under the name Subhuman Abstract, they soon changed their name to Comatose Vigil and began perfecting their keyboard-heavy brand of funeral doom, which they perfected with their second full-length, 2011’s Fuimus, non Sumus…However, the acclaim that greeted the album upon its release wasn’t enough to counterbalance years of constantly shifting lineups and internal tensions, and six months later the band broke up. An attempt at a reunion in 2014 didn’t work either, leaving drummer/vocalist A.K. iEzor with the choice to either pick up the pieces and carry on or pull the plug on Comatose Vigil for good and try something else instead.
Fortunately for funeral doom fans, he chose the first option and rebuilt the band with the help of guitarist/bassist/keyboardist David Unsaved, who’s best known for his work with Georgian (the country) funeral doom duo Ennui (who released the gloriously maudlin End of the Circle back in September). With Unsaved handling composition duties and the addition Seattle-based John Devos (also of Mesmur) on drums, iEzor shifted exclusively to vocals and, after adding an A.K. to the name to placate a former member, the trio set about recording Comatose Vigil’s long-awaited third full-length Evangelium Nihil, which is due on December 14 from Non Serviam Records (preorder here),
For those unfamiliar with the Comatose Vigil’s earlier output, the easiest shorthand would be to imagine a heavier, even more despondent version of Finnish funeral doom titans Skepticism. Evangelium Nihil picks right up where Fuimus, non Sumus… left off seven years ago. Slow, heavy, and almost unbearably fucking sad, it’s easily the most all-encompassingly hopeless album I’ve heard in a very long time. In fact, at four tracks in 72-minutes, it almost feels like a test of emotional endurance at times. How much of their relentless bleakness can you take before crawling to the bottom of a bottle of something you know you’ll regret come morning?
One thing you won’t regret: hitting play on “Comatose Vigil,” which we’re premiering here today at the Vault. At slightly over sixteen minutes, it’s actually the shortest track on Evangelium Nihil, and that may actually be something of a blessing. With its wraithlike synths and glacial pacing, it makes me think of water – a small, fog-shrouded lake during the dark moon, when just the thinnest of crescents is scarcely visible in the night sky – and how it sometimes speaks to the wretched and the downhearted, promising the most peaceful of sleeps for those who choose to lie upon its bed…