Review by Ryan Murray | July 25, 2020 | Official Facebook
Witnesses, a genre-defying Doom Metal band out of New York, NY, that was formed in 2016, released their 6 track album “Doom II” as a self release on May 31st, 2020.
In their press release, it’s stated that this album is about a plague that is born at sea, which makes it to land, to a village that hopes its story will not be forgotten.
This album is simply a masterpiece! From beginning to end, I absolutely love the story it tells. The instrumentation is perfect, and really carries a story of its own! The vocals are filled with emotions of both pain and hope.
To me, this album reminds us that even in the darkest of times, we need to have hope and try to survive even the hardest of plagues.
On This Black Ocean
This album opens up out on the dark ocean. Drums and guitars start off this dirge like track, followed by just bass and vocals. This track is more down tempo, but that doesn’t take away from the power behind the vocals, instrumentation and emotion.
To me, while this song is about the beginnings of a plague at sea, it can also refer to the plague of a life without hope. When we go through life without hope, we very easily become “another blind ship in the fog”.
“Alas, another blind ship in the fog
Starboard – it’s too late
There’s no one living
On that vessel
A mirage of life
Was all it was
A trick born of hope
On this black ocean”
I Hope Their Prayers Aren’t Answered
This 11-minute plus track opens up with more of a black metal sound, with heart pounding drums and a lot of speed/tremolo picking on the guitars. After about a minute, the atmosphere completely changes into more of a dirge like feel, which is where it stays for the remainder of the track.
At 3:12, all instruments pull back and we get just keys with a very low and eerie chord progression.
At 4:40, there’s a really interesting section, both instrumentally and vocally. I almost feel as though I’m listening to jazz-like acoustic guitars during this, and it’s a nice atmosphere with the vocals. And the vocal range is really shown as well.
At 7:01, the drums and guitars starts picking up again to bring back that dirge like atmosphere.
The music ends at 9:17, but is followed by sounds of a creaking empty ship with low growling like winds blowing in the background.
“Now they throw themselves
This track was hard to listen to while reading the lyrics. Such sadness and hurt throughout. With the global pandemic happening right now, there are a lot of correlations lyrically. I think of the many lives of men, women and children that have been effected. I’ve read stories of adults and teens who have taken their own lives due to the isolation of quarantines. A good friend of mine was going through a separation during this whole thing and unable to find work, so he took his on life.
The plague makes its way to land! This track starts with just a cymbal, low keys and some occasional drums. Then the vocals come in with strings, which really add to the atmosphere, and I really enjoy the stings throughout this track.
The guitars come in strong at 2:12, but at 3:12 everything pulls back into a lighter, almost soft jazz like acoustic atmosphere. This only lasts a moment until the distorted guitars follow back in.
There’s also a really nice guitar solo at 6:42 which goes through to the end.
“They brought all the dead into town
The dead want to be found
But none’s more selfish than a dead man
Who wants to be remembered
After three days
The wails in the night began
A murder here
A murder there
We called it doom
We knew it was too late”
For me, this song can refer to the plague of hatred as well. Hatred kills and spreads like a plague.
Worse With Time
This track kinda reminds me a bit of Tool. It opens with synth pads, which create this somber atmosphere, soon to be met by distorted power chords.
Lyrically, this song is kind of a continuation of the previous track. Plagues, no matter what kind, get worse with time. What we do with our time is so important because time is fleeting. Before we know it, we’ll be at our end. What will we have to show for it? Will we be remembered for succumbing to the plague without a fight, or for standing up and fighting against it until the very end?
“Everything I once knew
Everyone I once knew
Is fading away
Like we were never here
We sent a rider with our history
But there was pursuit
And we lost sight at the horizon“
Who Were You Before All This
This track opens with synth pads and keys for about 1:15, then vocals come in along with distorted guitars and drums. We also get a blast beat about half way through this track!
This track, to me, is about how when it comes to the end, we’re all the same. Mothers, fathers, rich bankers, poor farmers, smiths and the like. When we get to the end, is it going to matter how rich we were? Or is it going to be about what we did with our time and did we stand up to the plagues in our lives? Right before your end, who were you?
“Take this father
Then take this banker
The farmer and the rich
They pile up all the same
And sweeten the air
Who lost humanity”
The final track! This track opens right away with distorted, dirge like guitars. From 2:44-4:44, everything pulls way back creating a very light atmosphere. I really like the vocals here during this pulled back section.
Will the plague be our ending? Or will we rise up to defeat the plague?
“And these are my last words
Spoken from another place
Between two worlds
In a deep dark void
There’s nothing left for me
To see, hear, or feel
Nothing here begins again“
This album is amazing! Truly a masterpiece! The vocals are simply amazing with very nice range and emotion throughout. The instrumentation is just perfect.
To me, while this album is about a plague out on the sea, that plague symbolizes so much in real life. Hatred, anger, resentment, selfishness, racism, a lack of hope and so much more. We can rise above these plagues, and that’s why to me personally, this album is just as much about hope as it is about the plagues.
I give this album a 4.9 out of 5!
If you haven’t heard “Doom II” by Witnesses yet, you’re missing out! Please give it a listen!