The Bottom Deep
When Communic says they’ll take you to the bottom deep, they really mean it. Down it goes, all the way down, to the dungeons of desolation and despair. And broken as such a journey may leave you, it also provides you with a musical experience not soon to be forgotten. Now, I missed the previous outing of these Norwegian progheads, “Payment Of Existence”, but have been an occasional fan of the first two records. Occassional, because Communic’s sound can hardly be called “accessible” or “welcoming”, layering the moody wailing of Oddleif Stensland on top of dense riffs and hermetic song structures. No easy or uplifting melodies, just moodiness surrounding you on every side until you choke.
Hey, how’s that for publicity? “Let’s go listen to the band that’ll depress us to death!” But seriously, if you’re into progressive metal at all, you owe it to yourself to at least give these guys a chance. Hell, even doom and post-rock/metal fans could find something here to like, since I hear the feintest of hints in those directions every now and then. I guess it’s required that I throw some song titles around right about now, but really, this album depends more on atmosphere than on individual highlights. There is a sense of unison here, tying all tracks together, and if you’re in it for the catchy choruses, you’re gonna end up more crushed than you already were by the sheer gloominess of this affair.
But alright then, I could make special mention of the opening track “Facing Tomorrow”, which boasts one of the album’s more memorabele refrains, yet it is unlikely you’ll sing along to it merrily. The same can be said of “Flood River Blood” and “Destroyer Of Bloodlines”, and “Wayward Soul”, with its “One way ticket to the bottom deep”-mantra. This album clocks in on just under an hour (misplaced, too Manowar-like bonus track “In Union We Stand” excluded), but you’d never notice it. It’s remarkable how the tension of this album alone keeps you hooked, without many melodies actually lingering. Most of the time, that’s a dealbreaker for me, but I keep revisiting this and enjoying it more and more each time. If soul-shattering melancholy is something you can possibly “enjoy”, that is.
While I have a soft spot for the debut “Conspiracy In Mind”, especially the unforgettable power of “Communication Sublime”, I feel “The Bottom Deep” shows a more streamlined Communic, less eager to lose itself in 10-minute long compisitions, but tightening the songwriting (the longest song here lasts 7:44) for a more focused approach. There may not be a chorus-of-the-year on here, but the guitar riffs shine and there’s enough change in tempo and on-and-off heaviness to dazzle your senses. If you feel like taking a ride down into the depths of the human condition, I’d advise you to do it right and go all the way down to “The Bottom Deep”.
Arno Callens' rating: 4.0 out of 5