The 11th Hour began as a Dutch/Swedish collaboration between 2 death metal veterans wanting to explore the darker depths of doom metal. Ed Warby, known mainly for his work as the drummer for Gorefest, Hail of Bullets, as well as Ayreon/Star One, and Rogga Johansson, the man behind countless bands such as Paganizer, Ribspreader, The Grotesquery and Demiurg (another Johansson/Warby venture), made a convincing debut with 2009’s critically acclaimed “Burden of Grief”: a bleak concept album about the last days of a man dying from a lung disease.
Ed wrote and performed the highly personal opus by himself with Rogga offering lyrical contributions and of course his inhuman growl. Although The 11th Hour was originally intended as a studio project Ed assembled a live band (including 2 members of Dutch doomsters Officium Triste) for a one-time performance at the 2009 Dutch Doom Days. The gig was very successful and Ed enjoyed his new role as guitarist/singer so much that more shows were booked, including appearances at renowned doom festivals such as Germany’s Doom Shall Rise, Ireland’s Dublin Doom Day, and Spain’s Madrid Is the Dark. Slowly but surely “project” became “band”, even more so when Ed’s ex-Gorefest companion Frank Harthoorn joined the 3-guitar line-up. Visitors of Doom Shall Rise jokingly complained about getting an involuntary foot massage when trying to describe the heaviness of the band.
In early 2011, Ed began working on “Lacrima Mortis”, the follow-up to “Burden of Grief”, using material written over the past year and a half. Inevitably, the experience of playing live had its effects on the music, which is perhaps less doomy (although it’s still slow, heavy and mournful) and somewhat more varied in its moods and textures. Much attention was given to creating richly layered orchestral parts and Ed’s vocals soar with a newfound confidence.
As with “Burden of Grief”, Ed once again chose to play all instruments (more a reflection of his compulsive perfectionism, than of the band’s qualities), and while Rogga was also supposed to repeat his role, he was forced to pull out due to a prolonged illness that prevented him from delivering his vocals with the required intensity. Live vocalist Pim Blankenstein stepped in with his foundation-shaking roar, filling Rogga’s shoes more than ably.
Lyrically it’s deathliness as usual, with Ed weaving tales that fuse real life experience with fiction. The balance has tipped slightly in favor of fiction this time around, but that’s not to say Lacrima Mortis (the “tear of death”) is a light or cheerful album. The themes of death and bereavement are only matched in heaviness by the music, which together result in a truly crushing experience.