(Leperkahn brings words of praise for an EP by a San Diego band named Weightlessness, and an interview with the band’s bass player and vocalist “J”.)
For me, the two most distinctive elements in funeral doom (and its cousin death/doom) are a slow pace and morose, somber atmosphere. The former is rather easy to nail down, and is done pretty effectively by pretty much every band who set their sights on the subgenre. The latter quality, however, is far more difficult to master, and tends to be the standard that measures how good a funeral doom album is, and what separates the men from the boys in the genre.
In the past year or so, I’ve been trying to familiarize myself a lot more with doom and funeral doom, going through some of the legends and the newest masters, such as Ataraxie, Thou (I realize they aren’t purely funeral doom, but it’s a large part of their sound), Evoken (still need to dig into them further), Thergothon, Mournful Congregation, Lycus, and more. What all of these bands have in common is that they’ve mastered both of those main tenants of funeral doom, and tied them together beautifully – utilizing glacial pace as a tool to communicate paralyzing grief and despondence.
Out of nowhere (specifically, sunny San Diego, of all bloody places), Weightlessness have aimed to build upon those achievements within the genre, and on their debut EP Of Lachrymose Grief, they’ve done just that, infusing some of the best, most despondent funeral doom I’ve heard all year with some of the best melodies that Orchid– and Morningrise-era Mikael Akerfeldt never wrote.
Doom has already seen some great releases this year from bands such as Pilgrim and Thou, with forthcoming releases by Pallbearer and YOB promising to be positively fantastic; but I’ll be damned if this debut release from Weightlessness doesn’t hold its own against the titans of its genre. Check out a Bandcamp-able stream of the release at the bottom of the post (along with a link to purchase it via cassette, if you so choose), and while you’re doing that, check out an interview I conducted with bassist/vocalist J (my first interview!) to get a little insight into the band’s origins and influences, as well as a peek into what’s to come.
How did Weightlessness get started?
Well the project was born on a kind of accident I guess. It’d been floating between myself and our old drummer Charlie, we would kind of do sessions of some improvisational weird funeral doom/death metal material just for the sake of practice with recording and equipment. To it becoming a full fledged thing: if I’d have to pick a moment when I knew it was to become a serious thing, it’d be when I met the two guitarists (our current ones) Iann and Jake.
I kind of threw the idea their way about doing a death/doom project with me. We all shared the same music taste and understood that we wanted a release for that kind of thing. The dark, slow, slithering and morose vibes. I also kind of had material sitting away and so did they, so it was easy for us to start stringing along music like we did. It clicked very well. As of now though, we’ve had a line up change in drummers. Charlie has parted ways and we will introduce our keyboardist Cheyenne as the new drummer. Both very talented and hard working drummers. It’s a blessing to have had both of them help form this band.
Who are some of the biggest influences on the band? Are there any non-musical influences on Weightlessness’s sound or outlook?
I would have to speak purely for myself on this one. I know every member draws different inspirations and images respectively, in their own mind. When it comes to material I write things that I would want to hear. Which I know is very selfish. It’s what I need in order for it to work for me, as an outlet of expression. I’d rather give myself time to feel material from a mood than force it.
So I guess by that mind set it’s really more or less adaptive to what is encircling me, in the moments that a song is being structured. Every mood owns a different set. So it’s hard for me to pinpoint a list. If you wanted an answer to our outlook and sound, it’s born from that. My inspirations are drawn from anything. It can be a book, a life event, a listen of an Evoken album. And I would not want to define a border of any specific outlook or field of influences. Because what’s honest to our writing right now might not be there tomorrow.
Where does Weightlessness take lyrical inspiration from?
On the EP, there are a lot of words shared about grief and sorrows. I used a heavy amount of symbolism to define them also. If I remember correctly, for “Swallowed By The Sun And The Moon” I did it as a story [that] was inspired by a dream I had about drowning and some strange paralysis that occurs to me sometimes when I sleep. “The Fostering And The Adjournment” [was] written as an inner monologue to myself and wrote it as such; there were really no prevalent inspirations aside from my own grief at the time.
“By The Lore Of A Morose Stench” was also a story of sorts. It really was born in the same mindset of “Fostering” I would say. I know for each song, it kind of made a pathway for each listener to define it for him/herself. Ironically, we never put the lyrics out to the public. I will make a lyric sheet soon and hopefully put it up for the public to see. I’m not sure if I will be handling lyrics for our new material though.
How did you get Mike Meacham (of Loss) to do guest vocals on your cover of Black Sabbath’s “Solitude”?
I met him at a Loss show around our area and I hung out with him through a mutual friend. I knew his band and I’m a really big fan of the music Loss makes and the way they go about their music. I related a lot to the hatreds and grief on their album and because of that I thought Mike would be a perfect narrator for a cover of what I believe to be one of Sabbath’s saddest songs. I just asked him and he said yes.
Do you plan (or hope) to play some live dates in support of Of Lachrymose Grief?
Yes, the material will have very minimal shows in the Southern California area. All will be kept updated for anyone interested. We will also be bringing new songs with us.
Despite living here, I don’t know much about the doom metal scene around here. Any local doom bands I (and NCS readers) should be checking out?
Yes of course!!!
Trapped Within Burning Machinery, Destroy Judas, Pendulous, Vastum, Aldebaran, Cardinal Wyrm, (split up) Anhedonist, Ruminations, Noothgrush, Yidhra, [and] Lycus [would all be great bands to check out].
I’m sure I’m forgetting some though.
Do you have plans for shirts, or other merch, in the works?
We should have merch up sometime soon, and hopefully a vinyl reissue of the EP.
Does anyone in the band have a side project?
We all have our side projects and other musical ventures. I’d rather let each project live as its own than have people attach it to this project or merit it through that. So I’m not really going to drop names.
What’s been your favorite release of 2014 (besides your own)?
It’s a little early to tell – the new Pilgrim was massive, as well as the new Impetuous Ritual. But with the release of new material from bands like Stargazer, Desolate Shrine, Ascended Dead, Pallbearer, Loss, [and] Ghoulgotha, I think this year will be worthwhile. I know there is a lot I’m missing too.
Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like to add, or anything else you want NCS readers to know?
To all who support us, we extend our appreciation and to any and all who have helped us on our journey, we thank you.