Raw, brash and exciting – they are the words that come to when you first listen to the first album from Virginian doom merchants Tel. Not only are they the perfect three words to sum up the music that you hear on Lowlife but also the best way to describe a band that you distinctly feel are headed for huge things in the doom scene.
This group of talented musicians have managed to create an album that does pay tribute and capture the sounds of great bands like Mastodon but instead of just being some kind of clone they managed to introduce their own unique sound to the genre… something that means you never really know what you are going to get next when you listen to the album.
Opening track, ‘Ourobros’, is instrumentally deep and guttural and then Dante DuVall introduces some melodic vocals which soon turn to gruff growls which instantly flashed me back to the time that I first discovered doom as a teenager. The switches in Tel’s sound are never more obvious than they are on ‘Submerged’ which breaks through heavy foldback to suddenly have backing vocals that sound like they were plucked from an angelic choir… then comes the amazing slowed down instrumental parts that almost turn acoustic.
Tel’s willing to experiment also comes through on ‘Red Level’ which at times almost delivers a bluesy sound while the amazing skills of Michael Potts lifts ‘Choke’ to a whole different level. While I loved the entire album ‘Choke’ quickly became my favourite track when the angelic vocals returned mixed with something quite tribal.
The album closes with the amazing ‘Strangers.’ This epic monster slowly builds through the work of Potts and then reaches a full crescendo with stunning pained vocals from DuVall that really stay with you and make you want to hear more music from this talented band.
Take one listen to Lowlife and Tel will quickly become your new favourite band. This is the kind of album that makes you want to tell people about it and you’ll find yourself listening to it over and over and hearing new things every time. A stunning album from a band that are going to be the next big thing in the doom scene.