Premier doom vocalist Robert Lowe has been quiet since his departure from Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus’s seeming disbandment, but he seems to have stayed busy behind the scenes. While his collaboration with Pasadena metal veterans Tyrant is still pending release, he has contributed vocals for Grief Collector’s debut album. The ingredients are right in line with Lowe’s past projects, but the execution makes for an altogether different beast.
As a title like From Dissension to Avowal would suggest, Grief Collector takes a darker path rather than the lofty epic doom that one would expect. In lieu of howling wails, the vocals generally opt for a mid-range lament with occasionally punctuating snarls. The drums provide a solid foundation and the guitar tone is muscular but stays low to the ground, arguably showing more kinship with sludge than classic doom. Thankfully the ensemble sounds tight; the performances aren’t too flashy but they serve the morose atmosphere.
That said, the songwriting feels rather samey. For an album detailing the five stages of grief, there isn’t much variation between tracks as they all stick to a similar mid-tempo and distraught overcast. None of the riffs or vocal lines aim for classic status but there’s not much to complain about with the album only running to a half hour length. I can appreciate the sinister chorus on “Eyes of Fog,” “A Mournful Path” stands out for its attempt at a blues swing, and the guitar solo on “Of Misery and Woe” provides some appropriately lighter contrast to all the moping.
Overall, Grief Collector’s debut album is a solid showing that would benefit from further development. It’d be easy to say that Lowe’s contributions are the only element making this collaboration worthwhile, but the other musicians pull their weight and the darker approach works well with the concept. I wish the songwriting was more memorable and dynamic, but this is definitely a grower. It won’t replace the best of Solitude Aeturnus or even Lowe’s love or hate Candlemas contributions, but it’ll tide over doom fans.
“Eyes of Fog”
“A Mournful Pact”
“Of Misery and Woe”