Opium, the new album by the Romanian funeral doom band Descend Into Despair, is a classic example of a musical river. It began somewhere high in the mountains (a collective of minds). As the waters flowed down, they picked up an increasing variety of ingredients and became enriched, eventually gathering in a vast array of sonic textures and changing moods as well as works of visual art. By the time it reaches the sea (what by all rights should be a sea of listeners), it has become a flow of great and branching power. And as it mingles with the waters of that sea, it will become something different again, as the listeners bring their own experiences and emotions into the interpretation of what they hear.
The album truly is vast — an hour’s worth of music divided into only three tracks — and both the scale of its dramatic power and the intensity of its emotional impact are sweeping. It’s also musically rich, both in the variety of its instrumental and tonal textures (many of which are foreign to the traditional experience of funeral doom) and in the spectrum of the voices. And like a great river, it has the capacity to carry listeners away across changing soundscapes, and to submerge them in its extravagant depths.