I first heard about Death the Leveller when Cruz del Sur Music announced a doom metal band with members of Mael Mordha, an Irish band that blends together doom metal with celtic folk influence for an epic sound. I was pretty excited about that news since I’m a fan of both Mael Mordha and the similarly styled Primordial. I instantly started listening to their first EP and I thought it was a solid effort, but it wasn’t for me. Fast forward three years and we have the release of Death the Leveller’s debut album II. When I went to listen to this album I was kind of confused. I didn’t get something similar to the first EP (not as heavy), nor Mael Mordha/Primordial (not folky epicness). The albums’ approach was not what you’d expect from Death the Leveller’s previous work, but something else entirely.
Saddened that it wasn’t an epic album, I put II on repeat and just listened a few times to give it a chance. Initially, the songs were never moving forward and just drudging along as the singer was dragging the band with him. The vocals just weren’t good enough to carry the whole album, but something in the album made me keep listening. Eventually, I felt the album transition in my mind from just a weird band to a somber epic doom album. With these repeated listens, I started noticing the subtle signs of the guitars lifting the singer up to his ‘epic’ style.
There are simple riffs and solid vocals that build into something epic like Promordial. However, due to the guitars being so far back in the mix that it’s hard to hear that the guitars were actually the epic part making the vocals infectious. The melodies are subtle, but meaningful. This album is somber and atmospheric, while building to something great. It isn’t going to blow you out of the water, but it’s going to be that disease that is in the back of your brain always thinking about it. Think of this album as an atmospheric and somber epic.
II is an album that is much better than it first seems and demands respect. I hope you give it a chance, like I did. Do not miss this and it’s a great addition to any doom metal fans.
Album rating: 82/100
Favorite track: The Golden Bough