|Review: 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room|
|The Inside Room|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2011
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: August 12, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
for:The Inside Room
Rated 4.4/5 (88%) (5 Votes)
Patrick Walker is a name that should be familiar to anyone with a serious interest in Doom Metal. He's best known for his band Warning, whose two full-lengths The Strength to Dream and Watching from a Distance are widely regarded among the best of the genre and among the most bleak and oppressive albums ever made. Whereas most Doom bands end up being groovy or moody or tolling or many other things other than depressing, his work lives up to its genre's name by being emotionally draining meditations on longing and loss that are almost too much to bear on a single listen. This also goes for his more active project 40 Watt Sun, whose approach is very different from Warning's, but no less brilliant for it.
In many ways, The Inside Room is very much like a Warning album: the songs are long and lacking in flashy musicianship or complex songwriting, instead opting to create a wall of sound through Walker's droning, often heartbreaking guitar work and his raw, impassioned wails. The main difference is that this is significantly less heavy than Warning, mixing in elements of more atmospheric rock that give the compositions much more space to work with, which in turn lets the drum and bass work fill it all back in. This makes for a sound that's encompassing rather than oppressive, mournful rather than bleak, introspective rather than desolate. It takes the songwriting ethic of previous works and transforms it into something distinct, contemplative, and every bit as powerful. This is best demonstrated on the tragic opener "Restless", which may well be the most moving and honest song about regret and loss ever written, but every song from the moving "Carry Me Home" to the soaring album closer "This Alone" is an emotional triumph that contains some of the most stirring guitar work and songwriting you'll likely ever find.
Despite all the praise I have given this album, I find that I almost resent it at times. It's not an album I go to for escapism or joy. While listening to it, and quite some time afterwards, I always find myself in thought about that which I've lost, that which I long for and can't have, and how that longing led me to loss in the first place. It's not easy for me to listen to, and I hate how it makes me think and feel as I do so, but that might be the highest praise I could ever give it: it makes me think and feel like almost no other album does, and I'm always grateful for the experience by the end of it. So great is its impact on me that in the process of writing this review, I've found myself pausing and looking out into nothing for quite some time, the album fresh in my mind and filling me with the hope that I can find something as I do so. That is a power I look for in music. That is 40 Watt Sun.
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