Sigils combines doom driven occultism with reverb-laden ambiance on You Built The Altar, You Lit The Leaves to form the perfect example of the word doomgaze.
Doom, a genre whose name was for a long time synonymous with something evil, something hard and unforgiving, something slow and grinding. Over the years this perception of the genre has changed dramatically, though, with bands crossing the genre with every style they could get in their hands. Especially doomgaze, the mix of doom and shoegaze, being an example of how the genre has been made more accessible. Today, we will look at a band that is neither of the two, or rather not completely. Sigils stitches the occult and malicious atmospheres of doom to the glacial rhythms and atmosphere of shoegaze like the perfect representation for both genres.
Let’s look at the first track on the mysteriously named record You Built The Altar, You Lit The Leaves. “Samhain” begins with massive, malicious doom power chords radiating fuzz-dripping bass frequencies. Soon, the vocals follow, clean, almost shimmering from the clear and treble-heavy reverb effect. As the track progresses, ambiance slowly builds up around the guitars through the distant sound of bass and drums. Small embellishments drowned in reverb sound like the echoes of the damned, gripping their way into this life. The vocals seem unfazed by this, as they themselves drift off into a swamp of echoes. This change comes about so quickly the listener barely has time to notice how far they have sunken to the bottom of this sludge-filled ocean. Reflections of light on the surface made out of increasingly abstracted vocals make for the only consolidation in this dark, yet warm place. This rightly establishes both the doom and the gaze aspect under which the project sees itself.
On “Ritual” we see a similar start to our adventure into this caustic soundscape. Heavily distorted basslines crash against the shores as the vocals, seemingly ubiquitous, call out. This track feels very similar to the first one, yet tasteful pauses, long drones, and feedback keep pushing the listener underwater, deeper into foreign depths.
I was almost worried of stagnation at this point, but “Faceless” could wipe my doubts away. This track, while similar in feel, has a pronounced 70s doom feel you could even call psychedelic in nature. Now it seems that we’re back on dry land with this one, we should look more into those echoes. In this particular track, the little embellishments are further brought to attention. A feedback snarl here, a gritty reverb pedal being fed into the amp there, and ambient noise that feels a bit like field recordings can be heard in this track. These help a lot establishing the track as something organic and alive, it makes it doubtlessly human.
Through these aforementioned stylistic devices and the constant use of the vocals as not only a guiding light, but as a separate instrument, with which, is normal instrumentation, Sigils sets itself apart from its competition. A wonderful album to introduce someone to the world of doom, as new listeners and veterans of the genre will both find something to cherish. Occult hymns have never felt so embracing. This truly deserves to be labeled doomgaze.