Decomposed - Official Website

Hope Finally Died...

United Kingdom Country of Origin: United Kingdom

1. Inscriptions
2. Taste The Dying
3. Falling Apart
4. At Rest
5. Instrumental
6. Procession
7. (Forever) Lying In State

Review by Rosh on September 9, 2023.

Here we have a somewhat lesser known album hailed as something of a cult classic in death and doom metal denizens, and, before making the case for why this is rightly the case, I would first like to note that however obscure this album and band may feel, they certainly also feel like an appropriate snapshot of what the UK metal scene in the early 90's was known for, given the impact of bands such as the Peaceville three. The contents Decomposed so meticulously interred on Hope Finally Died... are then, not surprising, but this is to the record's advantage, because it's a cult masterpiece that lives up to its reputation and kinship in every respect.

If I had to describe this record in one word it would be effective, and by extension that the songwriting on this 1993 full-length is exactly how to pull off death/doom metal, with proper emphasis on both sides of the coin. I recall an interview with Harry Armstrong (vocals/bass) around the time this album was reissued by Candlelight where they asked if the inspiration to play this sort of dreadful music came from listening to an album such as Bolt Thrower's Realm of Chaos on too slow an RPM, and while this question was obviously intended to poke a bit of fun at the band, it's not an entirely accurate description of Decomposed either, because they actually do play at Thrower tempos sometimes. Take the monolithic opener "Inscriptions" for example, this song starts with a death/doom crawl accented by masterful leads before transitioning into stomping riffs and very simple lyrics about dying dead to death while you die. But honestly, those first growls hit so hard and set such a menacing tone that when the song speeds up into a very War Master-esque barrage midway through, it really feels twice as brutal because of the atmosphere already established. Of course, there's the riffs at the end of the song, too, which are just about the sickest musical downward spiral into eternal doom ever, second only to Saint Vitus' "Shooting Gallery." Meanwhile, "Taste the Dying" is definitely Decomposed's answer to "The Forever People" off As the Flower Withers, but I cannot help but find myself growling "why, must I, be thrust into this hell, to taste the dying, to die myself?" at inopportune times, occasionally in Martin Van Drunen's high pitched shrieks as well. (Seriously, guys from Asphyx, PLEASE cover that song if you're reading this!)

Other crushers such as "Falling Apart" and "At Rest" continue the trend of making the listener feel appropriately doomed with pounding riffs and melodies of desolation, also picking up the tempo at times, and the latter even including some plaintive spoken words to inject more melancholy into the music (a well taken lesson in death/doom, looking at you, Evoken). However, the true centerpiece of Hope Finally Died... is certainly "Procession of the Undertakers", which has the perfect buildup to create tension, what with its foreboding progression at the beginning accompanied by a downright nerve-wracking verse. The instrumental closer for the album then sets the mood of being forever laid to rest to wither away in eternal interment, never to see the light again. Hope Finally Died indeed makes hope feel like a far away flicker that will inevitably burn out like life fades from a choking victim's eyes as they pass away.

And it really is a suffocating listen, in the same way that early Cathedral and Paradise Lost managed to be; oppressive in every sense. I would go so far as to say that HFD deserves to be a standard in the death/doom metal genre for how well it epitomizes everything that defines the style, and it manages to do so in a pioneering way. Indeed, it has everything going for it that makes for quality death and doom metal, with its sparse but focused tracklist enabling sufficiently morbid and nihilistic songwriting, its muddy production giving the instruments a bottom-heavy, claustrophobic grime to them, and its morose guttural vocals delivering poetry about mortality. It is overall quite a shame that this band did not release more albums or grow to be one of the UK's premier death/doom exports alongside the Peaceville three, because this album of theirs is exceptional and immediately relevant whenever talking about all that is crushing, doomed, and hopeless.


Rating: 9.6 out of 10