Bleak Bill’s Reviews: Skepticism – Ordeal (2015)

Skepticism took a very unique approach to releasing their new CD Ordeal. It will be available as a CD/DVD bundle and a LP/DVD set. It is a recording of a single show, performed live before an audience on January 24th in Turku, Finland.  I cannot even imagine being at that show…

All of Skepticism’s releases have been an ordeal, so to speak. Being one of the originators of funeral doom, they are inherently a taxing listen. One must be in the right mind set to embark upon a Skepticism CD, as it is probably the antithesis of easy listening.
They have not deviated from their sound too much, but there are some differences to be noted with their latest release. The vocals are actually similar to their last release Alloy, but more prominent. This may be a result of the live recording, but I prefer the much more otherworldly and deep whispers from their early work on Stormcrowfleet.  

However, I do not listen to Skepticism for the vocals, so that was not a huge issue for me. Ordeal contains six new tracks and the old classics “Pouring”(9:03) and “The March and the Stream (12:27)”. Listening to their old material at the end really put into perspective what their new material was about. They seem to have abandoned all of the overtly haunting drones and brooding atmospheres in favor for of their more dramatic, melodic, and majestic epics. When listening to their new material, I feel like I am in another world, standing on the precipice in reflection of what has to be done. Against all odds, I have to make the biggest sacrifice, save the world from unfathomable evil, and thus providing peace for an age.  

The songs are powerful and melancholic, and the melodies converge in form of the simple progression found on the fourth track, “March Incomplete” (12:00).  This track is similar to “The March and the Stream” (12:27) in tempo and gravity of emotion, but not as inescapably dark. The spoken word section around the 2:50 mark is why I love Skepticism. It is highly theatrical but also contemplative.
The following track “The Road” (6:58) is an interesting development where the tempo picks up, well, at least the guitar does. The guitar on this track reminds me, oddly enough, of the rough thrashing found on Belus by Burzum. The last song of the new material is also quite a journey, where the organ is on full display. It is a testament to the deliberation involved in Skepticism’s meticulous songwriting.

Ordeal may not be the easiest listen if you are not into funeral doom, but for those who are seeking an emotional release, it is a perfect album. For the genre, the songs are so potent and almost instantly gratifying. In the past, a lot of Skepticism’s material required an exaggerated amount of time for a climactic payoff. This time around, they seem to have successfully shortened the droning sections without detracting from the final product.
(8 Tracks, 77:44)



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