23 Sep 2023

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The New Existentialists - Single Review: Invocation

16 Jul 2023 // A review by Peter-James Dries

The New Existentialists, a doom metal band known for their dark and atmospheric soundscapes, have just…

Wait a minute…

No. The New Existentialists are really not a doom metal band, and they’re really not known for their dark soundscapes… They’re more known as stalwarts of a bygone era. A lone buoy in a sea of mediocre, low effort, music-as-a-product releases.

I think my mistake here was asking an AI to write my review on their new single Invocation for me.

It wasn't just laziness. AI seemed a fitting choice, since the focus of George D. Henderson’s output of late has been the death of the world thanks to the internet. And by “of late” I mean the previous release, 2022’s Last Days of the Internet EP. And by “death by internet”, I think it’s more that the internet has provided the means for us to destroy ourselves and the world with greater efficiency. Or maybe it’s just a fear of the new and a lament for the old. I don’t know. I’m just a listener.

I don’t know if the world is any scarier than it’s ever been either, such is the claim that came with Invocation. We've been on the brink of nuclear extinction since the dawn of the Anthropocene. That hasn't really change. There are just more unknowns now. Compound unknowns. It’s the unknowns that bring fear. Once we come to know our new AI overlords, we’ll probably be happier that it was them that brought about our demise, and not ourselves. We always need someone else to blame.

Departing from their traditional style, the band embraces a more psychedelic approach, featuring clean and crooning vocals. Fans and newcomers eagerly explore this new sonic direction, curious to witness The New Existentialists' venture into the realms of psychedelia.

Well. AI actually got that part right… This was a departure in terms of genre. Not so much in terms of style. The mixing and mastering still sounds like The New Existentialists recent EP. It’s still Henderson. So yes, fans will eagerly explore this new sonic direction. As a newcomer, I too was drawn in. If only for the promise of Doom Metal, which isn’t something you get to review every day. Which is weird considering we’re living in the end times. You'd think more people would have jumped on the bandwagon.     

Invocation unveils a captivating blend of doom metal and psychedelic influences, forging a mesmerizing sonic experience.

While a departure from Henderson’s regular output, doom metal makes sense. In terms of using the right tool for the job, how else can anyone write about the post-2001 world without a sense of doom.

It is just a sense of doom though. This isn’t your kid’s doom metal. There are no guttural screams. No crushing ceiling of distortion. No backbreaking beats. No shrieking. No church bells. There might have been a church bell actually…

It’s doom from a world where Black Sabbath were the darkest thing anyone had ever heard. The world has got a lot darker since then. The outlook more bleak, and so too the sound. Like it says on the box, Invocation is new metal for old.

The crooning, clean vocals take centre stage in "Invocation," providing a haunting and ethereal quality to the track. The vocalist's emotive delivery enhances the psychedelic atmosphere, guiding listeners through a trance-like journey of introspection and contemplation.

True again. Thanks, AI. The solid bass line and stoner doom drums bring the journey, and the layers of guitar doing all sorts of experimental tremolo flicks brings the trance. What the robot doesn’t mention is the howling vocals in the background. It doesn’t talk about the chaotic guitar solos either. It all makes for a trippy, down-buzz of a psych rock atmosphere.

Okay. So, AI did an alright job with the limited information it was given. It managed to produce a convincing enough review, and probably not the first that a reviewer has snuck out. It's understandable. The volume of releases is booming, much like the human population, and releasing music has never been easier. Despite everyone these days wanting to share their opinion on everything, there aren't enough reviewers to give artists the outside opinions they desire.

Am I scared AI is going to replace me as a reviewer? No. The only thing I’d miss is the ability to find tracks like Invocation, which would be otherwise unavailable to me. That sea of mediocrity is an expanse. This buoy is just a buoy. Good luck finding it without a little direction.

You can find Invocation on The New Existentialists Bandcamp.

Recommended for fans of Sleep’s Holy Mountain, the Dunedin sound, GD Henderson’s extensive back catalogue and traditional doom. Less recommended for those in the Arctic circle that know what Funeral Doom sounds like, or those that realize that no amount of effort to save the planet on the individual level - such as veganism and recycling - will offset the damage caused by corporations.


About The New Existentialists

The New Existentialists are a West-Auckland based band led by songwriter and long-haul underground musician George D Henderson (The Puddle, Mink, The And Band, The Spies).

They have released Didn't Have Time (album), Poetry is Theft (album), Last Days Of The Internet EP and Invocation (single).

Spotify Playlist

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The New Existentialists


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