With their previous record, More Constant Than The Gods, SubRosa arguably define the epitomy of experimental doom metal. The Salt Lake City band featured a strange line-up, comprising of two violins, three vocalists, bass, guitar and drums, but that does not even begin to scratch the surface. Doom metal and sludge both dictate the album, but the innovative use of chamber music, the romantic lyricality and the overall grand feeling of American gothicism is what makes SubRosa so unique. Those aspects are glorified even further in their new album, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages.
SubRosa has mastered the three most important aspects of song structure. They start off with setting the scenery, adding color upon color with their violins, crafting the unique ambiance. That is the part where chamber music comes in and capitalizes. With classical leanings and an experimental outlook, it produces a more minimal presence, before heavier manifestations appear. It acts as dream sequences amongst the devastating landscapes, lending the band an ethereal, and also quite tragic, characteristic.
That is where the dynamics come in, and masterfully aid the transition of the tracks and the progression of the album. Without rushing from one moment to the album, SubRosa do not lose any of their atmosphere going from the minimal parts to the heavy riffs. In that respect, they are able to maximize the visual quality of the album, appearing as a constant and continuous work and not simply a collection of different parts and influences. It is so masterful a touch, that everything appears absolutely monumental in the album, from the doom weight to the subtler moments.
Then there is the instrumentation, correlating perfectly with the construction of scenery and the dynamic quality. It does not feel for a single moment that one of the elements, or a combination of these, is overdoing it. SubRosa takes a very subtle touch with the more stripped down parts, not being afraid to take away parts of the instrumentation to get the right vibe and feel, and then they are equally unafraid in going on a full-blown attack moment, conjuring perfect storms within the record, with a combination of the violins, crushing riffs and destructive drums.
The doom mentality does not wither for a single moment through this album, and that is also one of the more striking attributes of the album. The band is able to kill it with their full doom form, as sludge riffs come down, but they want to appear equally melodic and filled with solitude. It is an uncanny trick that they are able to pull through, managing to appear crushing and dissonant, reaching an extreme doom/death state, with growls coming through, and then add more sentimentality, becoming beautifully heartbreaking. And the one aspect that I find to be constant through this band’s work is this, crucial, epic feeling. The fact that their melodic quality transcends and becomes lyrical and tragic, boosts this epic element, turning the record to something grand and eternal. For This We Fought the Battle of Ages is a complete record by a band that excels at what they do. Not sure for what the Battle of Ages was fought for, but it was definitely worth it.