Celestiial – Desolate North

celestiial_92406_desolateDesolate North is the debut album from one-man project Celestiial (Tanner Anderson), and if this is any indication of future releases, it’s a name to remember. Typically branded as ‘funeral doom’, Celestiial transcends the sub-genre and creates an individual sound that simply has to be experienced instead of described in the typical ‘this band meets that band’ way. The dirge elements are still there – depressingly slow tempos, inhumanly low vocal growls and rumbles, ever-present drones, minimalist musical structure – but instead of stopping there, Anderson adds a layer of realism. Whereas most funeral doom releases seem to exist in their own twisted universe, Desolate North transports the listener to an earthly, more familiar (but no less ominous) location. Whenever I hear “Desolate North” (which, at this point, is over a dozen times) the feeling I get is of autumn in a forest. Leaves turning, fires burning… which isn’t exactly ‘desolate’. My only complaint about the album is that the title seems to be a slight misnomer. The icy bleakness that goes along with a desolate landscape just isn’t present here. But that’s a completely personal interpretation, and may have more to do with the reviewer than the artist. As I said, rather than winter I get the feeling of autumn – in fact, this release reminds me of Nargaroth’s “Herbstleyd” in that it conveys effectively the feeling that winter is coming and you can almost smell it. Anderson’s use of less common (that is, less common in the metal genre) instruments such as the harp and celtic flute add to the individuality of the project, separating it from any genre album. In fact, “Desolate North” isn’t like any album I’ve ever heard. If this album doesn’t go down as one of the best of the year, it’s due to lack of name recognition or complete inability to discern brilliant musicianship and concept. “Desolate North” has become one of my favorite albums and I recommend it to anybody looking for something intense, fresh, and one-of-a-kind. If this album doesn’t rejuvenate the tired extreme metal genre, it’s not due to lack of quality. This is an absolute must-hear. – Christine Lett


~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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