Genre: Doom
Country: Italy
Label: Terror From Hell
Year: 2018

Over the last year, due to work and other obligations, listening to new albums and discovering new bands has become a luxury. Still, in all this rumble of albums that I have put on my wanna-listen-to list when I’m in a peace of mind, at some point “The Room” of the Italian group Night Gaunt found its way there; an album that made me think that the real Doom expression, is still out there for anyone who still cares.

“The Room” is the second complete/full length album of Night Gaunt, released through Terror From Hell, and to tell the truth, the digipak that comes with now adorns my collection as it is one of the best productions in this field. In the musical context of the album now, Night Gaunt continues to walk on the ghastly, dark and psycho-doom metal path that they have been paving since 2013, without really deviating from it, so in general, we see a stability with compositions based on heavy (either slow or fast) guitars, the equally deep / heavy drums, the theatricality and melodicity of the vocals (whose extent has even widened), while the atmosphere created (even with sound tricks such as whispers) is overwhelming. The influences from Candlemass, Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost (the later is especially found in the track “Veil”) are obvious, yet filtered.

One would say that “The Room” has an internal sequence from two perspectives: first there is a latent scaling of music and emotions – at least that’s how it worked for me – and secondly because the lyrics and the general themes of the pieces are framed by the concept of five stages of Grief, as established by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. In essence, each piece, apart from the introductory “The Room,” is associated with a stage of sadness: Penance represents Anger, “Oval Portrait” Negotiation, “Veil” Refusal, “Labyrinth” Depression and “The Owl” Acceptance. As for the introductory track of the album, I should better let the band explain it better: “The title track works as an intro: it’s that moment after the tragic news of a loss when you find yourself alone, in your room, facing the event. The room itself has a double meaning, because on a hand it’s said lonely place, on the other hand it’s the physical space of the funeral chamber (which, in some places, especially in Southern Italy, are still held at home ), where you pay homage to the dead, and where you will find all the features of our mourning rituality such as the covered mirrors and the mourners, things that are still alive nowadays.”

Diving even more into the musical contexts of “The Room”, comparing it to its predecessor, I would say that while there is no change of musical direction, there are some basic differences in the composition. Initially, from the one-dimensional guitar work of the first album (the band was a trio at the time, not a quartet), where there was no room for harmonies and fillers in the sound, we arrived at “The Room” where the fact that the guitars were based upon two people, instilled the right amount of breath to the Italians’ whole work. Certainly, the compositions have become more interesting and I dare to say more adventurous, and surely the influence of their producer Marco (to which I will make a special mention below) gave the band the appropriate impetus to open its ‘feathers’ and liberate artistically.

The recording, mixing and mastering processes of the album were made at The Devil’s Mark Studio, in Rome, in the summer of 2017, by a man I believe is terribly intelligent and obsessed with his line of work. Setting aside the fact I never managed to speak directly to him (even though I watched him perform live with Demonomancy a few years ago in Thessaloniki, I think Marco’s influence is evident in Night Gaunt, making him the fifth member of the band, with his excellent work on the whole production.

Lastly, I really liked the cover of the album, coming from Nicola Samori’s “L’Occhio Occidentale” (2013, Oil on Copper).  I am convinced that we haven’t seen much of Night Gaunt yet and that they will make a strong comeback in the years to come.

Highlights: Penance, Veil

5/6