They Grieve Come to the Light on 'To Which I Bore Witness'

BY Mark TremblayPublished Feb 21, 2023

The best kept secret in Ontario's doom metal scene, They Grieve — the project of Gary Thibert and Deniz Guvenc, of Alaskan and Stay Here respectively — have spent the past several years refining their approach to doom metal, shifting away from the genre's usual tropes to make something uniquely their own. To Which I Bore Witness is a subtle, nuanced and richly emotional exploration of grief and loss that sends doom through a prism of sound.

Atmosphere is incredibly important to any doom metal record. Instead of solely relying on guitar and feedback to create atmosphere, They Grieve employ a variety of synthesizers and piano, whether it's the haunting, choral opening of "Wither" or "Under the Weight," or the sonic restart it offers in "Weakness." The various ancillary instruments sustain the cold and depressing energy throughout To Which I Bore Witness, the best example being the instrumental interlude "Guided," a minimalist piano composition in the vein of Philip Glass and A Winged Victory for the Sullen. It's a gorgeous palate cleanser that carries on into the weighty barrage of closer "Weakness." 

Riffs appear in unexpected ways on To Which I Bore Witness, whether it's the final climax of "Wither" or the droning release of the title track. Unlike most doom metal albums that are drowning in distortion and noise, To Which I Bore Witness focuses on clarity, allowing each note to land with a solemn weight. To Which I Bore Witness is a record made with intention; it asks the listener to slow down and consider each note in the maelstrom. Perhaps the most impactful riff on the album is that on "Weakness" — the song is a slow build of interchanging major and minor chords that erupts into a titanic wave of catharsis. 

Lyrical content is sparse but impactful, mirroring the duo's no-filler, all-killer approach to the music. Every not played and every word uttered (or groaned, or screamed) carries weight; the lyrical themes of the record focus primarily on depression and loss, balancing the uncomfortable juxtaposition between weakness and weight. The result makes for a genuinely vulnerable album that connects on a deeper level — with the content being open-ended enough to relate to a multitude of feelings and situations, To Which I Bore Witness strikes at the heart while leaving space for interpretation. 

To Which I Bore Witness is an incredibly emotional and delicate doom metal record that hits all the right emotional peaks throughout; They Grieve have thoroughly reimagined and defined their sound, opening their music to new feelings and textures and setting the course for whatever comes next. 
(Silent Pendulum)

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