Qaalm – Resilience & Despair (Review)

Qaalm - Resilience & DespairThis is the debut album from US blackened doom band Qaalm.

So here we have a gargantuan, monstrous record. With only four tracks it’s a long-form foulness that’s on offer here, one that spreads across the 70-minute playing time like a virulent plague.

The Qaalm sound is a dark and atmospheric blend of sludge, funeral doom, and various blackened influences. These four songs are all long and absorbing. The sludge heaviness is like a titanic slab of granite that falls with crushing finality. The atmospheric funeral doom is a glacial dirge that threatens to swallow stars, yet still has enough forlorn melody to drive the listener to misery and despair with tantalising glimpses of hope. On top of this lies a thick blackened miasma that coats the music like a shroud of night, yet never obscures what lies beneath.

Amidst the malevolent gloom can be found the dying embers of hope and light. This might be found in a whisper of melody, or a rich outbreak of clean singing. This aspect of Qaalm’s music is frequently buried under tonnes of claustrophobic, oppressive darkness, but is never truly or completely extinguished. It provides a good juxtaposition against the all-pervading darkness of the rest of the music, and helps the band craft immersive soundscapes that are more engaging and emotive than you might expect because of this warring core.

Resilience & Despair is likely to not find broad appeal with the average metal fan. It’s a gradually unfolding nightmare of epic proportions that draws the listener in and suffocates them until they see visions of the End of Days; it’s not something to casually stick on as you prepare to go out or are hitting the gym. However, if you are sufficiently weathered and initiated into the realms of grim underground doom, then Resilience & Despair is absolutely for you.

Highly recommended.

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