I have just recently reviewed Solothus’ new album, in the review revealing my prejudice against lengthy and minimalistic funeral doom while laying down characteristics of the genre which I find appealing. The Finish funeral doom masters Skepticism play to both sides of the spectrum, sadly, more to the former, on their 4th album.

Riihimäki, Kanta-Häme, Finland natives, Skepticism, have been laying down oppressive, heavily orchestrated funeral doom since 1991, beginning with "Aeothe Kaear" demo (1994) through "Stormcrowfleet" (1995), "Lead And Aether" (1998) and "Farmakon" (2003) LPs, leading up to, this here, "Alloy", recorded as Matti Tilaeus (vocals), Jani Kekarainen (guitars), Eero Pöyry (keyboards) and Lasse Pelkonen (drums), which was first released in 2008 by Red Stream Inc., and reissued by Svart Records last month, 5 years after their, so far, last album, "Ordeal", on the same label, as it often happens that a new label, having released a band’s new album, reissues their older material.

While the original "Alloy" was of decent length (47:17) the reissue includes the nearly 28 minute EP "Aes", thus making it a very long album, in my view, unnecessarily so. While I really appreciate the incredible detail and beauty that went into the Mourning Congregation-ary "The Arrival", the Peaceville (Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost) of "March October" and the Bach-ian church organs on Daylight Dies in "Antimony", and, especially, the way the keyboards sometimes create the melody, sometimes they cooperate with the guitars, chasing them, not unlike My Dying Bride does it, all the accolades despite the track length, I found "The Curtain" and "Pendulum" to be lacking in the power and the intricate details which made the first 3 tracks so excellent. Skepticism does redeem themselves in well-structured and paced "Oars in the Dusk", though, and, were this the end, the album would have been a very good work, overall, indeed, an easy 4.5/6.

But then comes "Aes" – everything I cannot stand about funeral doom. It starts out very dark w/o electricity, then, gradually, aquires some but going in a minimalistic loop as if they were The Doors and maybe for the same reason (cannabis). As I begin to fall asleep I glance at the display – 9:43 so much less than halfway there. There is some deathening somewhat around 12:50, but quickly mellowed, and henceforth it’s just a good test of your speakers or headphones until finally some melody around 22:00 to 25:00 captivates my ears, but I have a feeling the producer had gone to sleep asking to be awaken at around 27:15 mark, that is, where the track finally shows sings of nearing completion. Thank God this entire track/EP is a separate side on vinyl.

"Alloy" shows great creativity and beauty in excellent songwriting, on one hand, but boring, weird, uninispired, while criminally lengthy material, on the other. I do not commend Svart Records for including the "Aes" EP as it detracts from the overall quality and is a major reason for a half point deduction, but do check out the first 3 tracks for what these guys are capable of at their best.