Funeral doom, by its very nature, should not be easy to listen to. Music so steeped in misery, in world-ending sorrow and soul-crushing heaviness, should consume the listener, overwhelming you with its desolation until all you can do is immerse yourself within its dark currents, letting its slow tides of despair carry you away. That’s something that one-man act Omination understands, with debut release Followers of the Apocalypse demonstrating why the funeral doom genre is so named. With seven huge, lengthy songs, this album is a monolith in more ways than one, with black metal influences giving its sorrow a vicious edge that keeps the album interesting, never losing momentum no matter how slow or sorrowful it may be.
It should be noted that, when I say Followers of the Apocalypse is huge, I’m not kidding – at over 80 minutes long, the album requires a considerable investment of time to get the most out of it. This is a huge mountain of utter misery, the kind of album that can seem daunting simply due to its length – until, that is, you start to listen to it. Whilst a lot of funeral doom can be slow, repetitive, and – frankly – quite boring, Followers of the Apocalypse never lets itself get bogged down in glacial tempos and monotonous riffs. There is always something happening within the songs to keep them interesting, whether that be organ flourishes, unsettling bass guitar movements, or subtle shifts in the riffs – this is not an album that seeks to produce the doom metal equivalent of ambient music. In that, the influence of the old masters Esoteric is very clear; yet Omination’s music doesn’t sound in thrall to them.
Whilst funeral doom can, at times, come across as self-absorbed and very inward-looking, Followers of the Apocalypse instead feels like an album that’s as interested in the world around it as it is what’s going on in the head and heart of its creator. There is a post-apocalyptic feel to the album that matches the artwork, with a vast sense of scale being put across – the album feels almost cinematic, telling a story of desolation through the scope of its riffs and atmospheres as much as through the actual lyrics. It is a hugely evocative album, with the use of organ in particular adding an overtly religious dimension to the music, as if these songs were sermons for the end-times.
With all this said, the sheer size and scope of the album is both the strength and weakness of Followers of the Apocalypse. Funeral doom undoubtedly works best in extended durations; but when the music is this suffocating, so densely layered with details and atmospheres, it can feel exhausting, and a lot to take in. Whilst initial listens are certainly satisfying, time is certainly required to get the best from this album, to take in all that it offers and appreciate the wider arc it presents. It’s an album that asks a lot of the listener; but it offers so very much in return, that it is well worth the effort. This is a superlative record, that moves between traditional funeral doom glacial paces and more ominous blackened moods with ease, and is all the more remarkable for being the work of one person.
Followers of the Apocalypse is available digitally via Bandcamp.