This year, 2019, marks the 25th anniversary for Officium Triste. These guys from Rotterdam may not have the largest discography to show for such period of time, but they sure are consistent with their releases. Their highlight and album “Reason” which is loved by so many fans was completely self produced and recorded. For this reviewer it used to be “Giving Yourself Away” which I love to the extent that I have a signed copy by Pim. Now after 25 years of playing their brand of “Rotterdoom,” they finally release their new album that eclipses their entire back catalogue. “The Death of Gaia” is a journey through the 25 year old realm of Officium Triste.
Chosen by the upcoming and one of the best underground labels; the Indian label Transcending Obscurity. I couldn’t think of a better label for the release of this album. The fact that it is being released as a box set, adds a value to the bands’ anniversary. It comes in a beautiful box set which contains the album in a jewel case, an A3 sized poster a keychain/bottle opener, a pin, a patch, a sticker and to top it off, a card (certificate of ownership) signed by the band. It may be worth mentioning that this box set is limited to 150 pieces.
So it is expected that those will sell out pretty fast, especially with a band like Officium Triste. The artwork itself is very atypical. It also has some pale and warm colors. It definitely looks unique when placed next to its older siblings. Now, let’s get the physical aspects out of the way to focus on the real deal. The album itself is just short of an hour. Personally, I prefer shorter albums, but ladies and gentlemen, this is Doom. So the playing time is just about right. Neither too short to leave the listeners desperately wanting more, nor too long that it gets boring and tedious and makes you miss out on the last songs. You can definitely tell that these guys are masters of their craft, and “The Death of Gaia” showcases this beautifully.
Starting off with a beautiful violin/keyboard melody “The End is Nigh” is a typical song for Officium Triste. Those strong memorable melodies that are heart-breaking yet not exactly sounding desperate are their trademark. Don’t get me wrong, their music is sad and sorrowful, but they definitely maintain that glimpse, that speck of hope at the end of the tunnel. Going into really dark territories is the song “Shackles”, especially the second half of the song. The song itself ends with very typical Officium Triste standards, sections with great fills on the drums before the sudden ending.
Being followed by the short (almost instrumental) “A House in a Field in the Eye of the Storm” it feels as if it is there to clear the dark and thick fog left by “Shackles.” Female vocals make more than one appearance in the album. I’m not a big fan of female vocals, because lots of bands incorporate female vocals in their work especially in this genre, just because it is on the checklist of playing Melodic Death/Doom Metal. Surprisingly for Officium Triste, the vocals fit perfectly and are performed very well in this album. They are there to accent the music, lyrics and feel as a whole, and it all works gloriously.
Another thing, they used to accompany the music with actual live violin and cello recordings, not just a keyboard or plug-in, but actual instruments. You can definitely tell the difference. The keyboard is much more prominent and backs up the music from the beginning to the closure than in their other releases. However, it gives the band a slight Saturnus-like feeling. The guitar melodies and the occasional solos are something to write home about. Soulful, painful ultra melodic and somber, they are a Doom Metal fans wet dream.
The heavy rhythm section of rhythm guitars, bass and drums backing them are powerful and heavy thanks to the amazing production job which showcases every instrument clearly. Lyrically, this album contains some of Pim’s best words penned on paper, and to top it off his delivery is spot on. You would never guess that that Pim aged all that, for his growls are more powerful than ever as well as articulate and clear. You can easily make out the lyrics without a booklet, unlike other bands.
To sum up this review I have to mention the closing song “Losing Ground” which is one of their most varied and epic songs ever. It is an absolute awesome way to end the album and most probably you’ll hit the repeat button to listen to this piece of ear candy over and over again. Ladies and gentlemen, this might be “the” Death/Doom Metal album and highlight of this year. It will definitely end up in many year-end lists. It sure has in mine. Officium Triste has released an album for the ages eclipsing their existing and brilliant discography. 25 Years in the game and releasing something that powerful is an achievement that these guys should definitely be proud of. They have passion for what they do and it has obviously not faded by any means. On the contrary, it became much more stronger than ever.
Edited by: May Sharaf