SHATTERED SIGH (ESP) – Through Dark Veils, 2022 🇬🇧



– Versión en español –

If one thing is undeniable is that the last decade of the past century was revolutionary in terms of extreme metal. Death metal was at that time a breeding ground for bands, each one more brilliant than the last. Black metal would experience atypical fusions that widened an ecosystem that until then had been fearful of intrusions. But without a doubt, if there is a sub-genre that was born with the vocation to experiment, to give a twist to extreme sonorities and still is in pretty good shape today, that is doom death metal. Suddenly, the feelings of melancholy and extreme agony prevailed over speed and virtuosity to the point that bands like PARADISE LOST, ANATHEMA, or MY DYING BRIDE ended up leading the extreme scene of those years, being also a source of inspiration for hundreds of bands that would follow in their footsteps with more or less success, especially the scene that would emerge in Scandinavia and that ended up submerging, to a certain extent, the aforementioned British purebloods.

It is in this combination of scenes where we have to frame a band like SHATTERED SIGH. Although it is more than recognizable the attachment of this sextet to the most classic variant of British doom metal, something that is especially evident in the marked keyboard and piano lines in charge of Lourdes Machado, the sound of the guitars, the type of production that they have chosen and a cadence to fall into atmospheric and very melancholic landscapes also make us think of influences that could come from Finnish lands and bands like INSOMNIUM or SWALLOW THE SUN in particular.

Through dark veils is the second full-length album by this interesting Catalan band, and it has been favored by the forced confinement as a result of the pandemic, just like many of the albums we are reviewing from this period. This release improves notably the previous ones (there’s also a 2011 demo) especially in terms of production and mixing, having reached now a level that makes it impossible to know where from Europe is this band. To present this new release they have recorded a video clip for the song «Gökkota«, which is the best way to understand the philosophy and feelings expressed in this work, and which confirms the excellent current level that exists in our country when it comes to producing styles that, due to the idiosyncrasy of the Latin culture, might have felt as something distant and somehow forced up until recently.

These musicians really seem to be taken from some desolate, non-georeferenced spot in the Catalan Pyrenees. The feelings of isolation and the regretful detachment from the atrocious human condition and behavior are constant throughout this work. And besides achieving a nostalgic effect of a time that will never return, they submerge the listener in a state of miserable obfuscation and deep sadness.

The three vectors that I have found in Through dark veils that make it outstanding and highly recommendable listening is, firstly, the excellent vocal level of Luis Vargas. A very good dramatization in his interpretation, something that a style like this requires, varied textures that can remind us of Nick Holmes from the more rugged PARADISE LOST as much as the master of diction and guttural dramatism, I mean Felix Stass from CREMATORY. I think that if we were to place SHATTERED SIGH between these two bands, we wouldn’t be wrong either.

Another remarkable factor is the tortuous path of desolation that Lourdes Machado takes us, through a very sentimental piano and keyboards performance. With no technical flourishes worthy of mention, Lourdes approaches her playing from a purely classical point of view, placing great emphasis on the more natural piano parts. The way she weeps as she dances on the slow death marches over the keys reminds me of the more primal style of the late, great THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. Finally, I’d like to highlight the little introductions and narrated parts in most of the songs that help to enhance the sometimes somewhat cinematic thread that the band has put a lot of effort into. There we have that great horror movie entrance of «Without memories«, with mother and baby crying under piano notes that foretell a story that is not at all happy. The same could be said of the beginning and end of «Last damnation«, which hooks up with the first track in a kind of perfect loop.

In short and as a general summary, this new work by SHATTERED SIGH shows us the most creative and professional side of the band so far, clearly marking the steps to follow from now on. Through dark veils is the product of a commitment to honoring a style for which they feel a fervent love, and a pinch of affection is essential to make art out of what otherwise would be dull. A solvent work with songs as well written as «Last damnation«, «Isolated travel of Anguish» or «Without memories» will be the perfect pillow on which to pour liters of water and salt while meditating on the unbearable frivolity of being.

Translated by Irene López