Review: Thomas Andrew Doyle’s smirking masterpiece ‘Incineration Ceremony’

Of all the ways to flesh out Thomas Andrew Doyle’s smirking masterpiece, Incineration Ceremony (out this week on Yuggoth Records), being shoved into his sinister underworld yields the best scars.

Doyle, not green to the dark arts of heavy music, gifts us his first symphonic album, which holds his penchant for hard-hitting notes, but also showcases his composing prowess. “Silent Incineration” ignites Ceremony in the wee afterhours with percussive rattles, flares, and shrieks as though you’re lost in a crusty alley with money taped to your chest. “Lost in Abysmal Waters” follows with submerging decay. A fractured, faint voice unhurriedly spawns ominous tones and declares the obvious: survival is doubtful. This sentiment resonates in “Asleep in Arrhythmia” with its firmly felt wash of echoes. A trapped, pale heartbeat keeps time while wind and distant noises crowd the symbolic, wandering life.

Doyle’s intermittent and crafty used fanfares keep the listener waiting in anticipation, similar to solving a haunted corn maze. “Bio-illogical Functions” creeps along the boardwalk, as stalkers slither past the lampposts, piano keys crash and collapse off expected time. Horns blare briefly as cold percussion builds and strips away faceless characters. “Mediations in Null” reveals a dark layering of bombastic urgency while horns triumphantly call to mind Ennio Morricone’s famously scored trilogy. Doyle’s control of dissonant notes, sprinkling of high-pitched keys, and character driven themes, fuses his filmic ideas and symphonic styles into dizzy propulsion. Worrying about finding one’s bearings is overrated. Being lost in this shadowy realm is delightfully terrifying.

Throughout Ceremony, the imagined protagonist fumbles through life’s small victories and dead ends. “Desire,” ripe with fidgeting hands, finds our hero looking over his or her shoulders. Doyle’s surmounting chaos, however, never spews total destruction; fortuitously a string solo signals a flicker of hope. The brightly lifted notes seem to disrupt the cinematic doom, potentially streaking this nameless character with a ray of good fortune. This warm fuzzy, nevertheless, is annihilated when “Prognati ignis ignis” blazes Ceremony to rest with a cacophony of battling snares and horns, syncopated wood block and cymbal splashes. Doyle’s inclusion of Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” lecture testifies to keeping perspective within an arms reach, while musically Doyle liberates the most brutal of characters, forcing our circumvent living to collapse, thus spilling our best kept secrets.

The unsettling environment birthed in Incineration Ceremony is unnervingly sophisticated and hauntingly probing. Doyle’s well-conceived and executed compositions reveal endless archetypes fleeing, battling, embracing, and questioning life’s thirsty end. Enjoy the scars.

(You can listen to Silent Incineration from the album Incineration Ceremony below and get more info about Thomas Andrew Doyle at his website HERE.)

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