What Graceless Dawn
2nd December 12016 – Profound Lore Records
02. Broken Movements
03. Suffering Tree
04. Ribbon Of Shadow
05. (Was It) The Cruelest Thing
Part of doom’s enduring legacy is its connection with its own past, but equally it’s a gateway to the darker side of experimental music: neofolk, dark ambient and the creepier side of black metal. Longtime doom fans with access to any kind of internet connection have access to some of the weirdest music ever committed to record; for everyone doing slight variations on St Vitus in 2016 there are plenty of off-kilter groups lurking in the periphery.
Worm Ouroboros are bleak and understated, threading neofolk elements into low-fi, minimalist compositions. On What Graceless Dawn, they’ve cherry-picked the really effective bits of doom – spooky atmospheres, glacial drum patterns – and worked them into less bombastic arrangements, focussing on twinkly choral vocals. This works well on a playlist with SubRosa and their nature-y doom aesthetic and Mamiffer‘s similar explorative, icy sound.
More active than drone-y soundscapes and gentler than the noisier side of the dooms, the record is a rich soup of glum, dirge-like forest atmospheres. Opening track “Day” snakes its way through gloomy, delicate ambience before introducing a warm bassline towards the end. It’s pretty much the same story throughout; the tracks have loose structures with minimalist, ritualistic percussion nestled underneath the ghostly vocal harmonies. “Broken Movements” peaks quite a bit earlier and establishes the album’s doom influence pretty early on; later, “(Was it) the Cruelest Thing” is quite a bit more involved and showcases some neat percussive fills which help to pick the end of the album up. Song structures are lurking on the record but they can be hard to follow, with the record’s intensity peaking at odd times; subsequent listens show this to be a charming quirk rather than compositional laziness.
There’s not a huge deal of variation on the record, and diehard doom fans are likely to find themselves a little lost in the very, very loose compositions and the focus on snowflake-delicate vocals. These criticisms seem a little redundant for a band so focussed on atmosphere and texture and a little asinine when they’ve taken such an effort to showcase the twinkly vocal harmonies. This isn’t really capital-D doom; this is a witchy re-imagining, which seems perfectly appropriate for 2016.
What Graceless Dawn is delicate but bleakly effective. It’s a treat for doom fans wanting to delve into darker experimental music but looking for something that still feels familiar. Even if this isn’t your bag of dooms, repeat listens really do bring out the arch, crystalline vocals – essential listening for a harsh, cathartic winter.