Originally written by Jordan Campbell
‘Tis a bit daunting, this attempted dissection of something so subtly evocative. One would be foolish, however, to delve into such waters without expecting a challenge.
On Where Life Springs Eternal, Celestiial indeed presents some challenging material, and atypically so. While consistently described as funeral doom, this Minnesota-based entity largely eschews the smothering heaviness that subgenre is known for. Sure, the mammoth compositions and requisite glacial pace are soundly intact, but the shimmering hypnosis and anguished howls found on this album weave a cloak of black earth ambiance. This is sparse, sprawling stuff. As such, it’s equally apt to either capture your attention or simply bleed into the background; the choice is yours.
Thus, on one hand, Where Life Springs Eternal can be deemed a success. It truly mirrors the nature with which it is intrinsically tied. Running waters, crackling branches, the hum of life’s ebb and flow: this is what Celestiial conveys, and quite well. But nature is what you make of it–the value is in the eyes, ears, and hands of the beholder. If meditatively deconstructing your ego alongside a stream at dusk–for fifty-six minutes–doesn’t sound appealing, you may want to look elsewhere.
While divided into five tracks, three–“Spell Over Still Water,” “From Elm Blossoms A Rose,” and “Songbirds Depart Through the Passing Near the Garden”–serve merely as brackets (beautiful ones, at that) for the droning marathons that comprise the bulk of the record. “Great Storms Carry My Sadness” conveys exactly the vibe the title alludes to; it’s a rolling, hypnotic swell that easily bleeds past the half-hour mark. Main cog TR Anderson’s distant, unintelligible wails pierce the steady boil, lending a cogency to a slowly-evolving composition that alludes to mimimalist improvisation.
“Offering in Cedar Smoke” is a bit fuller and concise, clocking in at a mere sixteen minutes. Deliberate rhythms and barely-contained rivers of reverb make this a bit more engaging, but nothing on the album truly grasps you by the throat and pulls you under. Rather, these compositions simply exist, outright refusing to dictate the experience. One could percieve this as a critical flaw–citing the notion that profound music should have palpable, tangible impact–and such a claim would have unquestionable merit if we were speaking in a different context. However, Where Life Springs Eternal accomplishes exactly what it wants to, but it also demands a commitment that few are willing to give. After all, some can only handle the wonders of nature in small doses…but that still doesn’t diminish their gravity.