Ever since the church bell tolled ominously on Black Sabbath’s 1970 debut, a tangible connection to the divine has existed in the cadence of doom. When certain bands have been conscious enough to place emotional gravitas upon the Sabbathian altar, doom has become gospel, rapture and redemption. Without soul, doom, more than most styles of music, is nothing.
This is the maxim by which SubRosa grow. The Salt Lake City five-piece instil profound pain and sorrow into their music through colossal waves of guitars and crashing drums, the sacred cry of violins, and vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Rebecca Vernon’s depth of rage and reflection. This distinctive sound was captured perfectly on 2013’s More Constant Than The Gods, which received endless acclaim due to its songwriting prowess.
So SubRosa’s fourth full-length has a lot to live up to. It soon becomes apparent, however, that SubRosa aren’t swayed by trivial pressures; they are enveloped by their art, everything else is circumstantial. And although For This We Fought… is closely aligned with its near-perfect predecessor, it’s an immersive world unto itself with its own distinctions.
As expected, the stylistic trademarks of SubRosa’s vital, poignant sound are found throughout. But much like how Neurosis create, the genius here lies in how those qualities are arranged and presented. Most noticeably, more focus has been given to exposing space to harness the dark power that can manifest through proven quiet/loud dynamics, as mastered by Led Zeppelin. The No Quarter-esque opener Troubled Cells gives way to the rolling grooves and sublime vocal harmonies of Wound Of The Warden, naturally turning from a whisper to a roar, as Vernon’s anger fumes at those who deny others freedom. Following on, Black Majesty is easily SubRosa’s bleakest song to date, and the equally epic Despair Is A Siren continues to spiral towards damnation only to pull itself skyward during its final elegiac moments. Sung in Italian, Il Cappio acts as a short segue into the tumultuous Killing Rapture, which also plays a crucial role in strengthening the conclusion that SubRosa have birthed yet another contemporary doom classic.