Skepticism – Companion

It’s always difficult to make comparisons with the past when talking about a band that has made history, proving to be as long-lived as it is unprolific. The four organ pipes carved into the wood, depicted on the cover, ideally symbolize those four guys who in 1991 came together to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Thergothon and then redefine the coordinates of funeral doom, always remaining united in these thirty years between various personal vicissitudes but never give up, limiting themselves only to thinning out the releases especially in the new century. Companion is Skepticism‘s latest recording effort, six years after Ordeal, a work from which it differs greatly, starting with the fact that it was recorded in the studio and not live during a concert like its predecessor. The lesser preponderance in the economy of the sound of Eero Pöyry’s organ in favour of more canonical keyboard cues brings us back to an album like Farmakon, but we can’t help noticing that the two key tracks Calla and The Swan and the Raven, not by chance chosen by the band to anticipate the contents of Companion, are also among the most catchy ever, together with the wonderful Departure proposed in Ordeal. When the first notes of the album are spread in the air, the first hour fans are moved, and there is nothing to oppose because the sound of the Riihimäki quartet remains unique and inimitable, in spite of those who belittle the funeral for its alleged stylistic uniformity. As mentioned, not only the organ, which continues to perform its task as a surrogate for the bass, but also an enveloping keyboard stand as a banner of the return of the masters of the most fascinating and controversial subgenre of doom. The Intertwined is still pure poetry, solemn and melodic, despite the fact that the grim singer Matti Tilaeus does his best to make the whole thing more bitter, and the same can be said for the third track The March of the Four, another involving and poignant episode. The most difficult moment to decipher comes with Passage, a much rougher track than usual, dominated by the atypical drumming of Lasse Pelkonen and rather stingy with atmospheric impulses. The Inevitable brings us back to the coordinates of the first three episodes, ideally preparing the ground for the masterpiece The Swan and the Raven, a song that enters the list of the most beautiful and touching ever composed by Skepticsm, where the guitar of an inspired Jani Kekarainen is fundamental again. But at the end of this non-review (in fact, you have to consider these lines as the comment of a faithful follower of this thirty-year cult) the fact remains that, as said, although chronologically they arrived after Thergothon, probably the funeral doom as we know it today would never have existed without the decisive contribution of these musicians. This is enough, I think, to credit them with imperishable gratitude for how they always manage, after so much time, to excite and amaze, confirming a now dogmatic infallibility.

2021 – Svart Records