Doom is as doom does. No matter how many sub-sub genre tags you put on it — blackened, atmospheric, sludge, bedazzled (okay, I made that up, but what if) — all descend from Black Sabbath. But you knew that. Doom thrives on repetition, in both its riffs and its tributes. The Salt Lake City doom-metal band SubRosa isn't out to reinvent the stone wheel, but it does offer a unique perspective by looking back to America's melancholic folk roots for something darker and more soulful. It's almost fitting, then, that we premiere what might be SubRosa's heaviest track to date — "Ghosts of a Dead Empire" — from the band's third album, More Constant Than the Gods.
One minute into this Neurosis riff-chugging song, SubRosa's secret weapon appears: the violins of Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack. This duo has always provided a worthy foil to guitarist and vocalist Rebecca Vernon, but never have they felt so integral to the band's sound. One minute, they hum like a Folkways fiddle drone; the next, they shred in a way that lead guitars could never hope to replicate. (At times, the swarm feels like Morbid Angel's Trey Azagthoth in a wind tunnel.) The effect, especially with such a hefty track, is very Godspeed-y, but unpredictable as the violins simultaneously spiral and intertwine.