Scitalis – Doomed Before Time -Album Review

Artist: Scitalis

Album Title: Doomed Before Time

Label: Vendetta Records

Date of Release: 13 May 2022

It’s always a pleasure to review debut albums, especially if they are good, because I enjoy being able to help a little with the much-needed exposure. Plus, there’s always a little buzz of extra excitement when it’s a new band that impresses, because of the potential for a new, untapped resource to enter the fray. The band in question here, are Scitalis, an enigmatic black metal entity hailing from Umeå in Sweden who bring us ‘Doomed Before Time’. A trio, all we know about Scitalis is that they were formed in 2020, and are comprised of vocalist/bassist A., guitarist S., and drummer J. Covered as they are in corpse paint in the tradition of the genre, it is impossible to discern any more from the press photos either. Not that their identities matter of course, because I’m here to speak about the music.

Prior to releasing this full-length, Scitalis did release an EP, ‘Awakening’, last year that passed me by. Apparently, it was well-received, so that’s nice. But I come to this review completely in the dark aside from the sparce information in the accompanying press release. Mind you, that’s a rather apt position in which to find myself because when it comes to the music, Scitalis’ brand of black metal is equally dark. See what I did there? Seamless…with a segue like that, it’s almost as if I know what I’m doing.

I’ll quit the jokes now, because a light, jovial attitude to this review feels entirely incongruous. ‘Doomed Before Time’ is indeed a very dark, serious affair, that harnesses a cold, malevolent atmosphere from start to finish. The album is, by and large, conducted at a pretty brisk pace, meaning that much of the material is led by the obligatory blast beats and fast-picked staccato riffs. However, I like the fact that Scitalis are not afraid to play around with the tempo within some of the compositions, thus creating a greater sense of atmosphere as well as a feeling of unease and drama when the music is allowed to be slower. And even when we’re being hammered by the frantic, naked aggression, much of the time, the songs convey a majestic quality, created largely through the guitar work from S.

As the album’s title might suggest, I detect a smidgen of doom within some of the tracks as a result, predominantly in the latter stages, from the title track onwards. And importantly for me and many others no doubt, the trio understand the need to inject some measure of melody into their offering. It isn’t overdone, or the kind that lends proceedings an epic, triumphant edge; instead, the melody is tentative, understated, and very much in keeping with the darkness of the album as a whole. Nevertheless, it is something that I’m delighted to hear in what might otherwise have been a relentless icy dirge of a record.

The album as a whole is pretty consistent; if you like one track, there’s a fair chance that you’ll like them all. That said, I do have a couple or three favourites within the eight on offer, starting with ‘Serpent’. It wastes no time in inflicting a barrage of blast beats and sharp, icy riffs on the listener, before the raspy, tortured, higher-pitched growls add a bleak countenance to the already frost affair. For just about every moment of this five-minute song, it maintains a fast pace but, as I alluded to earlier, the subtle melodic interplay, as well as brief respite of speed engenders the composition with an almost majestic edge. It’s nasty and spiteful, but it is also elegant. And when the striking lead guitar lines come in at the death, it’s the striking icing on the cake.

The initial moments of ‘Seen By Blind Eyes’ are slower, and more deliberate to counteract the frenetic nature of what’s largely gone on before. It isn’t long before the pace quickens and the blasts return, but there’s a much keener melodic edge to this song overall. I’d not call the song welcoming, because it is still laced with malevolence, but it is easily the catchiest piece on the record.

The same cannot be said for the title track, but it is certainly one of the most interesting tracks thanks to its overtly doom-infused intro, that leads into a lumbering, mid-paced stomp, much slower than anything else offered by Scitalis up until this point. Even when the drums up the ante, the guitars stubbornly refuse to join in, ensuring that the more sedate pace continues, slowing even further at points to emphasise the doom metal influences to great effect. Being slightly longer, Scitalis are able to take their time in building up the powerful, dramatic atmospheres. Again, the lead guitars are used sparingly so that when they appear, their impact is that much stronger than they would otherwise be, striking a sweet dagger of dark melody into the heart of the listener.

Closer ‘Beneath’ is the longest song on the entire album and begins in hypnotic fashion, with the guitar delivering a repetitive, slightly dissonant lead line. This monotonous quality is both uncomfortable and strangely compelling, especially when juxtaposed with a more pronounced, and elegant melody. Again, the pace threatens to be swift, but is generally more of a mid-tempo, with the trio even experimenting with stark minimalism towards the end.

I am absolutely certain that ‘Doomed Before Time’ will create a few waves in black metal circles for a number of reasons. The songwriting is strong for starters, whilst the production is powerful and strong but organic-sounding and definitely not polished or pristine. The performances from the trio are tight and professional, and finally, the combination of atmosphere and aggression is well balanced. I have enjoyed listening to ‘Doomed Before Time’, the debut full-length from Sweden’s Scitalis and, if you have a soft spot for quality black metal, then I strongly suggest that you need to take a listen, because I firmly believe you’ll be impressed too.

The Score of Much Metal: 84%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability

Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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