Aeonian Sorrow’s ‘Katara’: A Dive into the Abyss of Gothic Doom
Bordering on funereal tempos, international Gothic Doom band Aeonian Sorrow slowly pulls you under, placing the weight of eternal sorrow and misery squarely on your shoulders – this burden is now yours to carry. Their latest release Katara pairs that misery with melancholic beauty, delivering one of the finest Doom Metal cuts of 2023. After facing a few lineup changes, vocalist/keyboardist/songwriter Gogo Melone returns with longtime guitarist Taneli Jämsä for a sprawling exploration of grief, as Gogo wrote the songs that would become Katara in the empty home of her recently passed grandparents, turning tragedy into cathartic art.
From the opening piano and guitar of “Anemos,” the band establishes the soundscape you’ll experience for the next 53 minutes. The band takes their time exploring the piano melodies over depressive chord structures. Drummer Achilleas Papagrigoriou anchors the record to a steady crawl. Once guitarists Taneli Jämsä and Jukka Jauhiainen have set the stage, Gogo Melone enters with a bed of keys and synth elements, providing a haunting base for her graceful and delicate clean vocals. Death vocalist Joel Notkonen then comes in like a hammer, often with stacked layers of growls in stark contrast to Gogo’s delivery.
Seamless Song Structures: Aeonian Sorrow’s Mastery of Composition in ‘Katara
The arrangements here are perfect – despite the fact that the songs average over 7 minutes in length, they’re divided into clear movements that never just hang around on one note or theme for two long, a common complaint from non-doom fans. In fact, the record is one of the most accessible gothic death-doom releases in recent years. Longer tracks like “Her Sorrow” (7:40) and the title track “Katara” (9:22) don’t feel that long, as you get swallowed into them immediately and lose sense of all space and time around you. The end of “Katara” came almost as a surprise, and I was anticipating another movement.
Their overall sound very much calls to mind the best Tristania records (and by extension, the best Sirenia records), without the symphonic elements, but all by way of more doom-oriented bands like Swallow the Sun and Trees of Eternity. While they don’t sound particularly alike, Gogo definitely draws on the late Aleah Stanbridge for inspiration in her melodies and ambient keys. I don’t make any direct comparison to Aleah (RIP) lightly, and this is some of the highest praise I can give to Gogo and Aeonian Sorrow.
The Emotional Crescendo: Aeonian Sorrow’s Unforgettable Conclusion in ‘Ikuinen Suru
The band truly saved the best for last – the seventh and final song on the album, “Ikuinen Suru,” opens with an extended ambient passage of keys, showcasing Gogo’s most expressive vocals on the albums. The band enters subtly and continues building up the song to a climax built on progression that’s equal parts hope and despair (and Joel’s death vocals absolutely shine in the outro).
Despite clocking in again at over 7 minutes, by the time you’ve reached the end, it still feels like the song has only just begun, and the album simply ends on a mourning note, with no resolution to the emotional journey they’ve just put the listener through. I finished the record, connecting to it fully and feeling full of sorrow yet without the emotional capacity to deal with it – the perfect ending.
Overall Score: 10/10
Review By: Tom Mis