If you’d spent the last decade doing the same thing with little reward or recognition, no one would blame you if you decided that perhaps you should give things up and try something a bit different. It’s to their credit, therefore that US based Doom merchants The Living Fields didn’t give up, kept going and, in the end, have delivered a career defining record that will see them rightly hailed amongst the more imaginative and creative of the burgeoning doom metal scene.
Running out of Daylight is a doom metal record in excelsis. But it’s a lot more than that label suggests. Encompassing a wide range of musical instruments to share their artistic vision and passions, not to mention their political sensibilities, it breathes some splendid new life into what can sometimes be a moribund and repetitive sub-genre.
The Living Fields’ unique selling point- their expansive use of alternative (i.e. non heavy metal) instrumentation to convey their musical and narrative ideas- is in full effect on this latest record. Piano, timpani and string quartet to- name but three- underscore the musical adventures with a lightness of touch that builds the sense of the epic and bring much welcome texture and tempo to their power and driven songwriting.
On “Remnant” there’s a crispness of execution that establishes the record well and in “Perserverance”, we get a nine minute extravaganza that feels half its length thanks to the cleverness of the structuring and the judicious use of orchestration.
Elsewhere there’s some wild vocals and, from Chad Walls, former skinsman with Texan based death metallers, Brodequin, exemplary drumming; he pummels the skins as if his life depended on it on a number of the tracks here but it’s no blastbeat extravaganza. On the contrary, he drills a well stoked engine room, driving the band and pushing and pulling the listener across the aural delights within.
“When the Walls Go Up” has an intro that sounds like an old vinyl recording of a lute from medieval times. It quickly morphs into a swaying folky piece reminiscent of early European progressive acts like Caravan or Genesis. They save the best for last: the title track, all sixteen minutes of it is a proper, structured and broadbrushing epic. It’s morose, depressing, caustic and cathartic- you’re going to love it, of course.
Running out of Daylight is not a happy record, which, no doubt, you will be delighted to hear. It is however, an accomplished piece with plenty to admire and indulge in. Three years in the making, it’s clear this record has been made with not a little love and a huge amount of effort. As doom records go, it’s pretty damn splendid.