|FOR FANS OF: Death/Doom, early Paradise Lost|
The death-doom scene was rather prolific during the second half of the '90s and it has maintained a healthy level of quality during the first years of the current century. One of the most respected bands, founded in the '90s, is the Dutch project Officium Triste. Prior to the inception of Officium Triste, the original members played in a pure death metal band called Reincremated. However, it didn´t last too much as the project disappeared and the same members founded a new project, which was more influenced by the sound of early Paradise Lost, just to mention an obvious influence of the project, which evolves from standardized death metal to something darker and slower. Even though Officium Triste has had a long career, their discography is not particularly extensive, as the band has released six albums only during almost three decades of their existence. From the first line–up, almost half of the band still continues in the band, which it's a great example of their compromise with this project.
As already mentioned, the band hasn´t been particularly prolific with its releases, especially from the 2000s to onwards. Anyway, the quality has always been present and though the wait is usually long, as it has happened since ‘Mors Viri’, issued in 2013, the release of a new album is always a matter of excitement for the fans. Finally, and after six years of silence, Officium Triste released in 2019 their new opus ‘The Death of Gaia’. The band´s core sound is still present and, fortunately, with a bunch of quite inspired tunes. Officium Triste plays a classic death-doom full of sorrow and mid/slow paced compositions, where the melancholic feeling is present in every note. From the first track, "The End is Nigh", we can feel this sense of misery in every melody. The guitars sound powerful with slow paced riffs, always full of sad melodies, which are a pleasure for my ears. Pim’s vocals sound as strong and dramatic as always and the keyboards are present in many moments, but without being overused. They added an extra point of atmosphere to the compositions, like the fog wraps the mountains in an autumnal day. The pace is, as expected, quite slow but never sounding overwhelmingly monotonous. This is possible thanks to the excellent guitar work and the solid and well composed rhythmic base. Apart from the mentioned guitars and keys, the band tries to enrich its compositions with the use of classic instruments like the cello or violin in the opening track, or in songs like "The Guilt". This one is a marvellous piece of the best and most emotional death-doom you can imagine. Even though the tracks may have a similar structure due to the nature of the genre, each composition has always a distinctive melody, which is reasonably easy to keep in mind. The album maintains a very high level but I personally enjoy its second half with a particular brilliant song, the already mentioned "The Guilt", where the singer Mariska van der Krul shows us her great voice. The following "Just Smoke and Mirrors" and "Like a Flower in the Desert" complete a trilogy of impressive tracks, the true highlight of this excellent album. The first one has an awesome keyboard introduction and some outstanding guitars, making this song a little hypnotic, while the later has a more slightly vivid pace with some vicious riffs and a totally addictive melody.
At the end, Officium Triste is, thankfully, another fine example of how a veteran band can still deliver quality stuff after many years. ‘The Death of Gaia’ could be considered one of their finest releases, clearly indicating how good this work is. No doubts about it, this is a must for every fan of death-doom. (Alain González Artola)
(Transcending Obscurity Records - 2019)