Fine someone that can do both. That’s a phrase we are used to hearing, but what does it mean in regards to Resounding Footsteps? Slow. Slow is a band that most funeral doom fans should be at least familiar with (or not, you can listen to whatever the hell you want), but I only became aware of within the last six months. I’ve had IV – Mythologiæ on my backburner since then. I didn’t quite know what to do with it, but it was an album that I wanted to do something with. I was forced to be patient because the right angle just wasn’t showing up, for all my attempts. Then, less than a week ago, I came across something new: IV – Mythologiæ (Ambient). It was like lightening out of the clear sky. Thor threw down a thunderbolt and suddenly it came to me. I knew how I could write about Slow. I knew the path I could take to examine this strange masterpiece. Two musical styles, two avenues of publishing, two albums, one story.
While I don’t doubt it’s been done before, I just can’t recall seeing it or haven’t seen it in general, recording the same album with such a dramatic shift in musical genre is an absolute mind bender to me. I had to do a double take to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. The same band recorded the same album under a new style. There’s going from electric to acoustic then there’s completely revamping the album. That’s what Slow has done here. IV – Mythologiæ, as two albums, is the same story but told in such a dramatic fashion that it’s almost a different story. It’s as if two writers saw the same event and wrote two different short stories. Perspective changes but event do not. Dark ambient and funeral doom as not dissimilar but they are far from close. Neither are overly accessible genres but each has their own fanatically devoted fan bases. How can they be brought together to tell the same story? Each genre, each album here tells the same story but they focus on drastically different things.
IV – Mythologiæ (Ambient) is a digital only release with the surface purpose of making money to record the subsequent albums in Slow’s future. I don’t doubt that reason at all but I know there is something deeper there. I know there has to be more to that story. The dark ambient album was created not just as a means to an end. It was created with a special purpose. It was meant to fill in the gaps pf the story that the funeral doom version did not tell or could not tell. How can I know this? Listen to the album, just a few minutes, and tell me that this is not a purposefully crafted album, that it’s cobbled together haphazardly with no vision or reason.
You can’t. As soon as you start listening to this album you feel what you are meant to feel with dark ambient albums. You are taken away from the comfortable world and reality that you know and you are deposited in the dark, lonely world of Slow. It’s a beautiful album filled with folkish harmonies layered atone a pink noise like drone. It’s not irritating but it’s not something you can ignore. There is an ever present feeling of motion in the album, something that I often feel in dark ambient music but never really go into depth on. The ambient version of IV – Mythologiæ introduces the listener, the adventurer, in the world that they have seen already but in such a way that the entire plan is new. It’s the same dreary, depressing world, but now there is a substance to it. It’s not just a place of stories. It’s an actual place now. With strange music, the kind I didn’t think Slow could offer, we are made more aware of our surroundings.
The emotional trauma of this sad, lonely world is felt keener; the melancholic melodies touch the heart in a way funeral doom was never designed to do. If I could give a suggestion, I would say listen to the dark ambient version first. Become acquainted with this new world, allow yourself to drift through the formlessness of the giants and the angels, the gods and the rebels. Feel yourself in their world, in their shoes, in their mindsets. Feel the lifeless sun on your face before you dive into the story, drift, meander. The dark ambient version of this story lets you feel this place in your bones. It uses the avenues that dark ambient allows, with drones and fuzz and melodic vibration to tell you a narrative that you would miss in a funeral doom album with the loud plodding guitars and the ominous drums. You can achieve different emotional height with this album. Even though each song is meant to highlight a different character and different aspect of the world, if you are not careful they can all blend together, creating a collage rather than an individual picture. I suppose that’s good, it can work either way, it’s up to the preference of the listener-protagonist here.
The funeral doom version of this song begins in much the same way that the ambient album does, almost as if this album was truly meant to follow the ambient one. It picks up right where the last one ends. IV – Mythologiæ is soft and inviting but it has a definite air of something sinister, something hiding the shadows, something that is ancient, lonely, and dark. This is not a world with a moral compass. There is no right or wrong, no good or evil. IV – Mythologiæ is slow in a way that only funeral doom can do, it’s not really plodding (though as I said earlier it does have some), it’s more fluid than bombastic. The riffs are not meant to excite; they are there to tell the story of the characters that we met in the previous album. This album is all about those characters. This album, instead of looking at the world around them, focuses on the struggles, and they are myriad, of the characters in the titles. The giant, frozen, forced to watch the world unfold yet never to take part or to save anyone from their fate, even those whom he cares about; the angel, dying yet forced to watching agonizingly as the world forgets her; the rebel that has lost hope and is falling into despair despite all those around him trying to help; the dying god, watching as his followers lose their faith in him and in the life that he has given them; and grief itself is a character, the orchestrator of the entire play but just as much a victim of the emotional blowback as the rest of them. Grief was once in control but has sense lost his way as his creation took on a life of its own and rampaged like a monster through a once controllable world.
The album is thick and heavy, a direct contrast to the fluid beauty of the ambient version. Neither one of them are stronger than the other, as they can only achieve their fullest potential together. The funeral doom album doesn’t have the emotional depth that connects to the world itself. The funeral doom version is all about the narrative and the characters. The dark ambient version is all about the world and how the characters mesh with that world but it tells us nothing about what or who they are. We meet them emotionally but not physically. Without the funeral doom version there would be no point of reference for the dark ambient album, it would have no special purpose, nor even a completed purpose and the funeral doom album would lack the depth that a story needs to stand out without the ambient album. They are good albums on their own, separate. But together they are something truly unique.
Will Slow do this again on the next album? Create two albums to tell a new story? I don’t think he will but even if he doesn’t we have these two gems that shine like black diamonds in the cold midnight air. They are cold and dark, depressing and uplifting. They tell a story of decay and rebirth, of life subverted by death and despair subverted through nature. They can be listened to separately but why would you want to separate a perfect pair?
Highlights: The Dying God (Funeral Doom), The Drowning Angel (Ambient). The Promethean Grief (Both)
If you enjoyed this try: Sabled Sun, Ahab, Abyssal
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