The month of February brought us a wonderful surprise: the new and beautiful album by the Austrian band Our Survival Depends on Us, called Melting the Ice in the Hearts of Men. The formation from Salzburg usually chooses very long titles for their LPs, but – something which is definitely more important to us – they always offer to their fans a collection of doom songs that are evocative, exciting and played with meticulous precision. And their last record doesn’t make exceptions.
For those who’re not familiar with the band, something which is quite likely since in effect they’re not among the most famous bands of the European metal scene, we can describe their music as a kind of doom which is very close to progressive rock, whilst presenting interesting stylistic influences coming from both black metal (especially for what regards the chord progressions) and, less frequently, from sludge.
Melting the Ice in the Hearts of Men is the fourth album in the band’s discography and we can see some elements of innovation with respect to their previous efforts. First, it’s the first time that we find only four tracks, all over ten minutes. Fewer songs, but each one is really full of details and with a truly interesting internal development. Secondly, their sound seems to have lost some of the roughness and abrasiveness of the past, with an increased emphasis on the melodic, folkloristic and progressive components.
An aspect that I consider very fascinating about this record is the adoption of a compositional mechanism where the key melodic elements are repeated extensively within the same song so that they, in the end, become a sort of hypnotic and suggestive mantras. In this sense, at times the songs of the LP reminded me, made all the evident differences, of some of the best works from the stone & drone masters Om. For some listeners, this extreme repetitiveness of the melodies may seem like a sign of relative lack of ideas, or a mechanism introduced to artificially extend the duration of the pieces. For me, it’s something that I really appreciated, also because we’re talking about melodies that in most of the case are beautiful and extremely evocative.
If I had to point out an aspect that doesn’t convince me completely, I would mention the vocal parts. These are undoubtedly interesting and particularly fitting with the style of music played by the band, but I feel like sometimes they lack enough intensity and passion. I can’t say whether it’s a problem of interpretation or post-production, but I would have expected more powerful and epic voices in order to better emphasize the drama and the evocativeness of the songs of the album.
The new album from Our Survival Depends on Us is destined to generate discussions between the fans of the band: some will criticize the adoption of a style that has brought the band’s music to be more “clean” and somehow more psychedelic with such a persistent repetition of the same riffs; others, like me, will appreciate the desire to experiment with a new approach, which has generated a really interesting result. For those who aren’t familiar with this band, my recommendation is to go and listen to their songs: you will discover a great band with a very particular style of music.
My overall rating is 7/10. Galahad and Gold and Silver are my favourite tracks.
Songs from Melting the Ice in the Hearts of Men are now featured in THE DOOM METAL RADAR, the playlist which collects the best and latest songs in Doom Metal. Check it out and follow it, the playlist is continuously updated with new songs.