Condemned is the debut full-length studio album by American technical doom/ thrash metal act Confessor. The album was released in October 1991 by Earache Records. The original album contained 9 tracks but there´s a Japanese version available with 3 additional bonus tracks.
The music on the album is a very unusual kind of doom metal. First of all the tempo isn´t snail tempo slow. It´s still brick heavy music but the tempo is mostly kept in slow- to mid pace. Secondly the music is quite technical compared to most other releases in the genre. Especially the drumming stands out as very busy and skillfully played, but the rest of the music is also rather intricate. Calling the music on Condemned progressive or technical doom metal wouldn´t be far off the mark. To top it all off there´s the distinct high pitched vocal delivery by Scott Jeffreys. He is the kind of singer that I usually associate with progressive rock/ metal. I´m reminded a bit of Cedric Bixler-Zavala from The Mars Volta. While Scott Jeffreys is a skilled vocalist, his vocal lines are kind of non-melodic and sometimes even close to atonal to my ears, and it will probably be a challenge to some, if they can digest them. If a bit more melody and variation had been put into the vocals, this album could have been even greater than it already is. The melodies do grow on you though, but most likely the album will require several spins before the songs stand out from each other and the melodies unfold.
Another unusual feature on a doom metal album is that the songs are not especially long. Most are about 4 minutes long but that´s only a good thing IMO. There´s not a dull moment in sight. Confessor are not the kind of band that play their riffs on repeat for several minutes. On the other hand some might miss gloomy atmosphere and slow building majestic doom climaxes. The music on Condemned has a more desperate sound to it instead. Many of the riffs on the album are thrash metal inspired but the drums make sure the pace is kept slow enough for this to be called a doom metal album. Most tracks are very technical and there´s no better example than the excellent title track. It´s really refreshing to hear a doom metal album where the influence from Black Sabbath isn´t particularly obvious. Instead the early albums by Trouble seem to have been a great influence on Confessor.
The production lacks a bit of warmth if you ask me, but it´s still powerful and suits the music well.
Condemned is one of the most unique doom metal albums out there. Not only because the music on the album is unusually technical for the genre but also because of the distinct high pitched vocal delivery by Scott Jeffreys. If you want to challenge yourself to some technical/ progressive doom metal, Condemned is a great place to start. A 4.5 star rating is fully deserved. Just beware that Confessor are sure to be an aquired taste.