When Seventh Angel’s debut album The Torment came out, I was an instant fan. I was a huge thrash fan in my teenage years, and their unique take on it–lots of acoustic interludes, and darker chord progressions–appealed to me. A couple of years later, the band followed up with Lament for the Weary. I must admit that at first I didn’t get it. It was much slower than any thrash I’d ever heard, and I hadn’t discovered doom yet as a genre, so I didn’t have a frame of reference for slower tunes. The dark subject matter didn’t help either–lyrics about depression, dealing with suicidal thoughts and similar terrain really rocked what was acceptable–not only for the Christian market–but for me personally. I shelved the album for a while.
It wasn’t until 2-3 years later that I picked the album back up for another listen. This time it hit me differently. The slow, dark riffs combined with the technical, fast-paced thrash interludes struck me in a new way–it was pure metal genius! And while we weren’t used to Christian metal being so honest about struggles with mental illness, or heavy emotional issues, it was strangely refreshing.
Somewhat ironically (or perhaps unsurprisingly) the first song that really grabbed me was the instrumental “The Passing of Years.” There are no lyrics whatsoever, but it’s clear that some dark times inspired the track. The first time I really allowed myself to both listen and feel what was happening, it really impacted me–almost in a negative way. I suppose growing up in a nice, clean evangelical family sheltered me from expressing–or even feeling–dark emotions. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but it drew me in and made me keep listening!
So . . . I keep listening. And again. And again. This is a bold claim to make, but I’m going to say it: Lament for the Weary is my favourite heavy metal album of all time. There’s nothing else quite like it. Nothing that mixes the slow dirge of doom metal with breakneck thrash pacing–all intertwined in the same song. It also features the incredible artwork of famed Rodney Matthews.
Fortunately for me, I was privileged to catch their reunion show in London in 2012. While they featured material from the just-released The Dust of Years and at least one track from The Torment, the majority of the set was from Lament for the Weary. I felt like a teenage metalhead all over again catching his favourite band. Meeting frontman Ian Arkley was a treat as well. While he is in a different place spiritually than he was back then, he is a genuinely decent guy, and it was nice to share a drink after the show.
Maybe I’ve made the mistake of blowing this album and song up too much for you to enjoy it. But perhaps it will be just as magical for you as it was for me. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.