If doom coming from Arab countries is no longer a novelty at all, and witness the vibrant Jordanian scene of which we have already spoken thanks to the excellent works of Bilocate, Chalice Of Doom and Falling Leaves, it nevertheless arouses some curiosity to meet this band from Saudi Arabia, a nation in which, theoretically, playing metal should be even more difficult. Regardless of these socio-geographical considerations, the second full length by Grieving Age, which has been active for almost a decade, holds several reasons for interest that, for better or worse, should help it not go unnoticed. Meanwhile, these five figures from Jeddah offer death doom with minimal melodic concessions, manifesting a certain verbiage at the lyrical level, as the good Ahmed Shawli spends about an hour and three quarters (!) gushing almost nonstop reciting lyrics that, judging from the song titles, of a length worthy of the infamous Bal-Sagoth, should not be too conventional. In this regard, having also availed myself of the support of people who know even the most recondite folds of the English language, it seems that ours have indulged in a few too many licenses, making those who believe that the lyrics have their proper weight in the overall musical work turn up their noses, but, given the genre proposed and the chosen modes of expression, I personally consider this a flaw that can be easily overlooked, while duly taking it into account in the final evaluation. Returning to the purely musical aspect, Grieving Age subject us to an exhausting test of endurance, since the five tracks travel on an average length of more than twenty minutes each, leaving little room for wide-ranging moments: the sound of the Arabs is claustrophobic, asphyxiating, partly referable, for the heaviness of the riffs and the vocal style, to the seminal Cathedral of Forest Of Equlibrium completely deprived, however, of any melodic or psychedelic component. Let’s make it clear right away that the heights touched by that masterpiece are still a long way off and that ours puts out a record that is definitely intriguing but objectively redundant in its excessive length, if it is true that even sacred monsters like Esoteric (another reference point for Grieving Age and it is no coincidence that Greg Chandler put his hand in this record) risk straining the attention of fans with their usual works of kilometer-long length . Let’s say that among the five sonic monoliths offered by the Saudi guys, the first two prove emblematic by showing their worst and best faces, respectively: Merely The Ululating Scurrilous Warblers Shalt Interminably Bray!!! drags heavily for nearly twenty minutes endlessly repeating the same chords, while O, Elegiac Purulent Purtenance, O Sepulchral Longevous Billows proves much more structured, with several tempo variations, a few melodic hints and some truly engaging riffs that show far from trivial writing skills, as well as, on the occasion, not a few affinities with an unjustly underrated band like Mythological Cold Towers, particularly those of the crude but equally magnificent The Vanished Pantheon. It is precisely this valuable quarter-hour of death doom that is suffered, but capable of enveloping the listener in a cloak of darkness without at the same time risking consigning him or her permanently to the arms of Morpheus, that Grieving Age should try to beat in the near future so as not to risk being taken in only for their exotic provenance. In short, Merely The Fleshless We And The Awed Obsequy is a good record, to be assimilated preferably in small doses, which still, however, ranks a few steps below the top of the genre; if the Saudi band manages to rationalize its proposal more by focusing on the not a few positive notes that emerged on this occasion, it might pleasantly surprise us at the next round.
2013 – Solitude Productions