This is, from some accounts, the quintessential British doom metal record. I have no idea whether or not that’s true because I honestly didn’t know there were separate regional doom metal scenes before I read this album’s reviews. But, listening to it, I think I understand why.
If there is one thing I can say about this band is that they are committed to their sound: extremely low, extremely plodding, vaguely psychedelic at times, and utterly unrelenting. It’s a little slower than most “stoner metal” I’m familiar with but it’s more psychedelic ish than most doom metal I’m familiar with, and it’s perhaps too melodic for sludge metal – it’s somewhere in between. But, regardless of whatever label you want to apply, they are utterly committed to their sound. And that counts for something.
If you like this kind of music – sludgy, extremely slow, stoner rock – you will like this record. It’s got the “songs” in the sense that the songs are catchy enough for the aesthetic to succeed. And it’s got the aesthetic in spades. It works. It is entirely successful as an artistic statement where the artists are concerned about “purity” or something similar.
But whether or not it’s some kind of classic is another story. As I mentioned before, I cannot claim to be any kind of expert on British doom and stoner metal. But I do know when those broader genres began and it was a little earlier than 2000. (Specifically it was the late ’80s/early ’90s, a decade ish earlier than this record came out.) Though I certainly admire the commitment here, and I actually enjoy the record, I have a hard time imagining that this record should be considered one of the best albums of its year.
Is it the pinnacle of some niche metal scene? Maybe! But so what? Why is “best album of a niche metal scene” a good criterion for determining great albums?