By Laura Wiebe Taylor
Grief doesn’t quite capture the emotional atmosphere soaking this debut from Dutch/Swedish duo The 11th Hour. Burden, yes – the album is tormented, weighed down. But grief sounds too frail to describe songs laden with so much heavy gloom. Anguish, even misery, is closer to the mark. At first, the classic sludge and sardonic vocal melodies lean in a doom rock direction. But a hulking low-end sets up the deep guttural growls to come, rock tips over into metal, and Burden of Grief churns into earth-shaking doom tinged with death. Death in the lumbering brutality of The 11th Hour’s sound but also in subject matter – Burden of Grief follows a narrative concept, from lung cancer diagnosis to the grave it eventually leads to. The album’s mood ranges from morose to ominous, sluggish to slowly savage, and it’s the movement back and forth that drives the songs forward: the give and take between singing and grumbling, steam roller riffs and penetrating solos, thick distorted guitars and piano or rich synth orchestration. The fourth track, “Weep for Me,” could stand on its own, and though the rest of the record doesn’t provoke the same fascination, the whole is undeniably solid, in every sense of the word.