Stream from the Heavens-Thergothon(1994)
Stream From the Heavens - Thergothon (1994)
Funeral Doom Metal
Doom metal is a genre I’ve covered a bit on this blog already, and I would think my love of it is no secret. One of the things I love about doom is its diversity, spawning more sub-genres and experimental projects than any other sub-genre in metal. One of these sub-genres is even more obscure than doom was, and I think it may be the most obscure genre in all of metal: funeral doom metal. It mixes slow, depressive, plodding doom metal riffs with the ominous, sinister melodies, double-kick drumming and growled vocals of death metal, while also adding atmosphere and synths from dark ambient music to make a diverse, sinister hybrid that is almost something of its own. Creating one of the darkest, most ball-crushingly schizophrenic genres in metal, Stream from the Heavens, released in 1994 by the Finnish band Thergothon, is pretty much the start of it all...
The album introduces itself with the track “Everlasting” and you immediately notice the strange production on this record. It starts with a synth line that sounds like it came directly from a church keyboard or possibly an 8-bit video game. But the subtle cheapness of the treble-high keyboard effectively complements the reverb-laden guitar riffs, which sound almost aquatic. Consequently, the odd effects end up giving this album a unique flair, as the tone of the keyboard does eventually sound quite ominous, and when mixed with the monolithic, slow and sinister guitar riffing you have some of the most twisted-sounding metal known to man.
If I were to choose one character who personifies this album, Cthulu actually fits surprisingly well.
Although the Lovecraft-themed lyrical work may have something to do with that.
While clean vocals are introduced first, it becomes clear that the extremely low-growled vocals of Niko are to be the dominant force in evoking the sense of Lovecraftian despair and darkness. The drums slowly thunder away in the background as the lead guitars sync with the synth to create a harmonious melody that pulls the song together. This formula would more or less become definitive for funeral doom, creating a sense of slow pending doom and marching depression perfectly. While there is melody in this genre and especially in this album, there are plenty of riffs that evoke such a sense of evil in their dissonance that it sends chills up your spine, such as the main riff in “Yet the Watchers Guard.” Stream from the Heavens also plays with some pretty unconventional melodies, and uses some flutes and medieval instruments in a few segments to evoke a sort of ancient element.
Thergothon use their lyrics to conjure up a very dark picture, with lots of Lovecraft-esque images of red-skied, barren wastelands filled with “dark ones” and such. I got a bit of a Nordic-themed lyric in the last song, “Crying Blood & Crimson Snow” as well, and some nature in the song “Elemental.” The vocals narrate these stories perfectly, with the growls being used to truly translate, or at least translate in growl, the dark stories being told by the instruments. Typically, the structure of a song on this album would be to get a riff or two and then go on a cosmic “funeral trip” of droning riffs and sustained synths.
Thergothon: Niko, Mikko, and Jori.
Unfortunately, Thergothon would only release this album and then move onto other projects, none as fulfilling as this. I think this record will probably fly over most people’s heads, as I know it did for me, since it is very strange. But if you have an open mind and give it a few listens this record will really open up to you, and it really is one of those records that is a full journey through all the tracks. Still one of my favourite albums. 10/10
Best Tracks: All of them? I think people would like Everlasting, Yet the Watchers Guard, and The Unknown Cadath in the Cold Waste the most, though.
As the Watchers Guard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcmLjvTkjC0