Witnesses – Doom II27th May 2020
Doom II is the latest offering from new york experimental outfit Witnessess ; the creative outlet for multi instrumentalist Greg Schwan. Where previous releases have seen the use of electronic and ambient sounds to create cinematic soundscapes, Doom II takes a darker approach exploring the doom/black metal genre.
A pure concept album telling the tale of the spread of a deathly virus (yeah for real) throughout a small unnamed community. The tale begins with On This Black Ocean where Schwan introduces us to the disease as it manifests among the crew on their fatal journey, “oh we sleep with the scratching”. Schwan has a skill for storytelling and approach to songwriting and the atmosphere he creates serves the listener well.
I Hope Their Prayers Arent Answered sees the disease land ashore and views the doomed crew through the eyes of the natives. Here Schwan draws upon previous releases as he creates space and atmosphere between the narrative with minimal instrumentalisation building and creating tension. The transition between this and the title track really is like something out of a creepy old movie, and this is maintained throughout the eight minute track. Where Schwan does allow some indulgence it is in the impressive guitar lead breaks (performed by Scott Loose) that close the song and I felt I could have listened to this for a while longer.
Worse with Time really shows the vocal skills of Kody Ternes and Schwan’s penchant for melody with long musical phrasing and menacing riffing. Again some beautiful guitar lead saves the track from being over-repetitive.
Who Were You Before All This questions morality among humans in the presence of the threat of death. Here the album starts to tire as the long drawn out passages become a little too familiar with regards to previous tracks. An Ending brings to a close this dark tale and its about time; there is little to hear that brings anything new or particularly interesting.
With Doom II, Witnessess have created a dark and atmospheric album that upon first listen draws you in to the narrative. However it sadly does little more to hold you there other than with some short dynamic changes in pace and neat guitar parts. Schwan is clearly a talented guy but I feel he could have taken further steps to make the album feel more complete. This is by no means a bad album; in fact it has some truly brilliant moments but I cant see it being a grower as there just aren’t the hooks to draw you back.
1-On this black ocean
2-I hope their prayers aren’t answered
4-Worse with time
5-Who were you before all this
31 May 2020