Back in the early nineties Celestial Season was part of the vibrant death doom scene in the Netherlands. Along with the likes of The Gathering, Officium Triste and Beyond Belief they fit into the larger, highly creative, Dutch extreme metal crowd that included other luminaries such as Asphyx, Sinister and Gorefest.
Their first record ‘Forever Scarlet Passion’ was a remarkable album that was heavily inspired by the Peaceville Three, being My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema. It was somewhat rough around the edges, but it showed a lot of promising talent. This promise was fulfilled on the sophomore ‘Solar Lovers’, which was a near perfect doom record and still a hallmark of the genre to this day.
Unfortunately, to the chagrin of most of their fanbase, the band decided to head into a new artistic direction not so long after. From ‘Sonic Orb’ onwards they traded their death doom grandeur for a more psychedelic stoner rock inspired style. There were hints of this newfound inspiration on their previous compositions as well, but the total abandonment of their doomy roots was a hard pill to swallow. In their defense, this was light-years before stoner became a real fad, so one shouldn’t accuse them of opportunistic bandwagon jumping. These were by no means bad records either, simply ones that had a very hard time finding resonance with their devoted old-school fans.
Shortly after the turn of the century the band had hung up their guitars until a new flicker of light came in 2012 when they played the by then classic ‘Solar Lovers’ in its entirety on the annual Roadburn festival to an enraptured crowd with Orphanage’s George Oosthoek on vocals.
Now eight years later, we get what a veteran doom fanatic could only dream of: the true successor to their second album, one worthy of the ‘Solar Lovers’ legacy. Continuing the Roadburn connection, Burning World Records brings us ‘The Secret Teachings’.
For the most part the original doom era lineup is brought back with Stefan Ruiters on vocals, Olly Smit and Pim van Zanen on guitar and Jason Köhnen on drums. Jiska Ter Bals also brings her melancholic violin play to the whole, as well as Elianne Anemaat on cello.
The opening title track ‘The Secret Teachings of All Ages’ takes you right back to 1995. After the melancholic string intro, a lengthy doom song sets in that brings back all the elements we loved about the band. The elegant, yet sober artwork is completely in line with the recently re-released versions of their two first records, which emphasizes the fact again that ‘The Secret Teachings’ really picks up where they had left off 25 years ago.
Despite the obvious Peaceville influence, Celestial Season, was never a mere clone of the more renowned acts. From the very start they had their own style. The magical interplay between the violin and the cello on the one hand and the guitars on the other is what makes this record so special. I dare you to listen to the almost Floydesque work on ‘Veil of Silence’ and not be moved to tears.
‘Solar Lovers’ had a notorious cover of Ultravox’s ‘Vienna’ and in the same spirit the new record closes with a cover of Type O Negative‘s ‘Red Water ( Christmas Mourning)’ which they turn into their very own song. Christmas Mourning? Christmas came early for me this year. Thank you Santa for the best comeback album of the year!
Release Date: October 23, 2020
Label: Burning World Records
- The Secret Teachings of All Ages
- For Twisted Loveless
- The Ouroboros
- Long Forlorn Tears
- Amor Fati
- White Lotus Day
- Salt of the Earth
- They Saw it Come from the Sky
- Lunar Child
- Beneath The Temple Mount
- A Veil of Silence
- Red Water