The Christened Remains of an Evolutionary Catastrophe
(Dead Tank and Damnatio Memoriae)
The Christened Remains of an Evolutionary Catastrophe is the third full length from the sludge and doom outfit Senior Fellows. While the combination of these styles is interesting in theory, what the band ends up creating is a package of monotony.
While it is possible to have two styles that rely so heavily on structure work together, what ends up with Senior Fellows are songs that blend (due to little variation between any of the tracks). There are some tempo shifts from time to time, but from the beginning the energy and rhythm hovers at a consistent level; and even those slight moments where speed picks up don’t help much to differentiate the tracks. Sludge is able to be effective in its varying tones and playing with its structure, with the same being said about doom. However, the emotional power that both elements have the ability to create (especially that of doom), get lost in this monotony. While in the beginning the first couple songs show some promise, it is as the record trudges forward the weaknesses are revealed.
From the start in “Decades To Build, Seconds To Destroy” comes drawn out and dark notes with thick atmosphere. “Dominance, Vanity, Suffering And Desolation” picks up that groove a bit more and adds a crunch to it. What to keep in mind about both these tracks is that while the latter has moments of amplified drumming, all the other elements stay the same. This is what happens from here on out for the rest of the record as songs alternate with some tempo changes, but maintain the same sound and keep to a basic rhythm. The vocals stay around the same level of screaming, and where as the guitar work switches it there and then, the rhythm and sounds all come off too close to one another. Whether it is that medium drawn out weight, or very brief moments that pick up, that’s all there is to hear. No crazy speeds, rarely any unique low/high moments to be found… it all stays around a very medium level.
If there is one positive to be found as far as instrumentation, it is with the drumming. The drumming is at its best when it goes full throttle, shaking away the dust. “Self Righteous Indignation Tastes Better With Power And Privilege” is an example when picking things up can help change up the album, and “Market Forces Govern Human Rights” has some of the more intense drumming to be found, but the sound in both of these tracks comes off too familiar from the ones before them.
Senior Fellows could have found a lot of opportunity in this record to pull off some pretty interesting effects, combining two brilliant styles of metal. Unfortunately, the work gets wasted on a straight forward delivery that can lose the listener. What is sad to say is that the elements are there for an incredible record. In the beginning the strength of doom’s emotional power is present, and the band even opens with some decent material. It is a shame however that the emotional strength is left behind, and none of those great elements ever grow into anything more (or at least slightly different). With little variation in sound comes an album that disappoints, barely reaching positive moments.