PASSAGE, the latest album from the U.S. black metal/ doom project Yith, sounds like misery incarnate.
The album smoothly moves between brisker black metal-oriented segments and billowing doom riffing. The break between the two styles hardly even feels noticeable — the progressions throughout the entire album feel jarringly poignant, and similar vibes underlie the whole runtime.
The music feels quite melody-centric, and these melodies feel rich but brashly pained. PASSAGE features a rather thick sound packed full of hazily harsh guitars, and the brisker segments deliver a nearly disorienting frenzy, but the melodically expressed inward agony feels unmistakable. The journey feels like venturing into a blinding fog in which there’s suddenly only a single shadowy figure visible as they stand in the mist. The melodies feel like a solitary scorching flame slowly expanding outward, and there’s a sense in the methodical expansion that there’s no escape. The flames are coming, and they’re all-consuming.
Although the despair on PASSAGE feels unmistakably heavy like a weighted and slowly suffocating cloud, ragged and fiery riffs only appear at some points on the album. For significant portions of the journey, Yith focuses on mournful and downtrodden riffing that feels, at least comparatively, inwardly menacing but not particularly physically punishing. The very end of the album, including the latter part of the penultimate track “VOID” and the entirety of the final track “GATE,” feels pointedly breathable, with slower tempos for the agonizing, face-clenching musical blasts. “END,” which opens the album, also features prominent doom riffing, although the track gets particularly brisker around the midpoint.
This contrast between the weight of the despair and the breathability of the rhythms makes the music feel like, at least in part, it’s capturing a point where the struggle is over. Within the world of the album, there’s no longer a visible path out of the slide towards the abyss suggested by the album’s cover art, which depicts a haze-filled gray hallway leading to a feature-less black door-shaped entry point.
“WATCHER,” which appears third on the six-track album, feels particularly standout among other solid moments. On that track, Yith performs galloping — and still emotively pained — rhythms with a soul-cracking force, poignantly unifying the album’s two sides of doom and fiery black metal. Across the entire album, the instrumentals shine — the vocals, when they are present, mesh into the mix like an echo from another dimension. The music feels resolute, which only makes the weight of the sonic despair even more crushing.
Listen to PASSAGE below: