Lycanthia- Oligarchy (Hypnotic Dirge Records)

Great Australian doom.

Doom metal has always been an interesting sub-genre in that once you move away from the more traditional offshoots of the genre and start looking at the less accessible varients of the sound, (such as death doom or funeral doom) you start to find only a few quality acts spread out through the underground all over the world. That's because there's never really been a centralised scene for that kind of metal, there's no Gothenburg or Bay Area for the gothic doom movement. Sure, Scandinavia will always be associated with the melodic and depressive sounds of some doom metal varients, but with such a sparsely populated yet widely spread and die-hard scene, truly world class doom can spring up from anywhere in the world. Lycanthia are just such an example of this.

Hailing from Sydney, Lycanthia's sound occupies a gloomy realm made up of the likes of Swallow the SunKatatoniaMy Dying BrideOpeth and Paradise Lost. Reading that, you should already have a pretty good idea of what they sound like. Sometimes harsh, heavy and crushing, sometimes dripping with sweet juicy melody like a ripened peach, but all the time concerned with portraying 50 shades of sorrow.

Oligarchy is the second full length album released by the band and what makes this album worth your time is simply the strong quality of song-writing at play here. Taking a solemn stroll through the bleak territories of death/doom and gothic tinged piano/female-vocals, the band evokes the exact atmosphere of despair necessary to enjoy such work. The melodic female vocals and piano are perfectly balanced with the harsh screams and the band really knows just how long to let a song last. At about 53 minutes long, the album is just the right length to let each song emotionally resonate and sink in, without wearing out their welcome.

Another strength of the album are the little nuances added to the instrumentation. Aside from the previouslt mentioned pianos that add a tender feel to the more mellow points of the album, there are also violins and string sections used to great effect. Just listen to the mournful strings weaved throughout the undergrowth of opener The Essential Components of Misery and let these masterful misers sweep you through the sweet waters of woe.

Make no mistake; Oligarchy is one of the best Australian releases to come out under the gothic/death/doom umbrella. Draw the curtains, pour a glass of red, light some black candles and enjoy.

Oligarchy is out now.