Sigils’ sprawling debut album You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves truly feels like the ballad of the doomed. The New York band’s at times lengthy doom metal swirls a diverse set of ingredients into an oppressive cloud immersing the listener, who are then left pondering the nature of a disturbance deep inside of them while the music only continues to grow. The at this point new band expertly tread the line between monstrous doom and personally, emotionally affecting work, presenting an album that ends up delivering monumentally on both fronts. The unity of purpose contributes significantly to the creation’s overall power.
Vocalist Salvatore Rex’s contribution clearly establishes its own thread throughout the album, offering one of many distinguishing points. He sings cleanly, but as if he himself is immersed in the cloud whose presence the music makes known. In his vocals and in the work at large, there’s a ghostly, gothic tone that starts the listener down a new path after walking them through the doom.
Musically, the band often return to surging melodic waves that carry the listener through their work without feeling abrasive or suffocating. The degree of their attention to broad strokes of melody almost feels surprising at times, but the element helps further establish the uniquely personable nature of their creation. Some of the striking — and ultimately alluring — melodic twists might have roots in guitarist Tom Colello’s background in high-profile hardcore bands like Shai Hulud.
The dramatic contrast between Shai Hulud and Sigils helps picture just what the band capture. Rather than exploring a new world, or even our own already in-place natural world, Sigils’ combination of creeping but substantive melody and almost solemnly operatic vocal work with mountains and valleys and waves in between of doom establishes their take as the human’s eye view of the mayhem. Listening to the record feels like standing on a beach as a tidal wave that will surely carry you to your death gets ever closer.
This pervading sense fits well with what the band have explained as some of the thought process behind their work. Rex crafted his themes both from experiences of being outcast as a queer person — even in some metal circles — and from the historical experiences of women who have been persecuted as witches, a historical thread that emerges clearly in his lyrics.
Sigils have made these pools of pain tangible that pack the feeling of facing a perhaps inevitable doom.
Listen below via Bandcamp. The full record releases March 22