Album Review: Tears from a Grieving Heart – “An Endless Cycle of Wrenching Pain… If Only I Could Feel Hate” (Funeral Doom/Sludge)

Written by Helena

Tears from a Grieving HeartAn Endless Cycle of Wrenching Pain… If Only I Could Feel Hate
> Funeral doom/sludge
> Massachusetts, US
> Releasing August 4
> Independent/self-release

The liner notes for Tears from a Grieving Heart’s debut album begin as such: 

“Anger cannot exist without sorrow.

Tears from a Grieving Heart (TFAGH)’s debut full-length album. A mix of funeral doom and sludge that is drenched in grief and seeping with rage.”

And ooh boy, you can FEEL the rage and sorrow on this stellar release. The first of two tracks begin in typical stylistic fashion for most funeral doom and sludge bands: glacially-paced drums, hyper-distorted bass and guitar, and wretched vocals that shake you (the perhaps unassuming listener) to your very core. My God, this release from these promising young upstarts is INCREDIBLE. With every bone-crushing riff, I can feel the massive pain and sorrow this band inhabits. First, I must add that the mastering on this album does this music an incredible justice; every drum hit, guitar/bass strum, and vocal fry can be not only heard but felt in your very soul. Michaela Bocchino’s vocals, drenched in reverb, are the embodiment of overwhelming sadness that can seemingly only be released through an aural exorcism. Mandy Wilkens’ guitar and Hayley McCarthy’s bass tones, although distorted, can be experienced with utter clarity that I find to stand out from the already oversaturated Bandcamp tag of “funeral doom”. This release is truly remarkable and a must-listen for any fans of the genre.

I will admit that I have been away from the metal genre for a while; I often find myself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of sometimes lackluster music and find little that stands out to me as the pinnacle of creativity and beauty. Not that this is necessarily what this genre is about, but I find there to be an exquisite allure to the pain and suffering that artists toil away to unearth and release upon the world. Even as I listened to this release for the first time, I saw this profound and magnetic charm not only as a hallmark of the genre but as a philosophical statement. There is indeed an incredible pain to this music; the near-weeping howls of Bocchino’s vocals are often hard to listen to, from an outsider’s perspective. Perhaps this is what drives casual or outside listeners away from metal in general. The very dying screams of humanity can be heard in this music, and this might be unappealing to those outside of the scene. That being said, I’d like to indulge the reader of this article to contemplate the very existence of pain and how it manifests in aleatoric creations. Perhaps this is baseless, but a Sadean methodology (as in Marquis de Sade) states “It is only by way of pain one arrives at pleasure”; a truly Hellraiser/Clive Barker-esque way of viewing the innate suffering of humanity. Again, please indulge me for a moment; Dostoyevsky writes: “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The great men must, I think, have great sadness on Earth.” I find these two quotes to be salient here because although both respective authors were not speaking of music, I would posit that music (among all of the art forms) is one of the great communicators and transmitters of humanity. Through words and decidedly painful tones and expressions, artists of any sort can find a way to not only express their humanity but elicit a both sympathetic AND empathetic response from the listener. It is this way we find our common humanity.

Thank you for indulging me, dear reader; I know I am prone to flights of philosophical curiosity and may seem obnoxious to put on a website for reviews. However, I find this level of analysis to be rewarding for me not only as a musician but also as an appreciator of music that others may find to be alienating because of its inherent qualities. An Endless Cycle of Wrenching Pain… If Only I Could Feel Hate by Tears from a Grieving Heart from Boston, Massachusetts only contains two tracks, but also has a duration of nearly an hour, the second track (“Godless Abomination”) being almost thirty-six minutes long! This may seem gimmicky to some; tracks as long as this draws obvious comparisons to Bell Witch’s standout 2017 release Mirror Reaper. However, I applaud TFAGH’s sheer endurance in this regard; to play music that long in any capacity is difficult enough, but to present an incredibly cohesive product is another in its entirety. Across two tracks of seething sadness, the quartet presents an ugly and desperate vision of humanity and its respective struggles, showcased with an unflinching eye to the sheer depravity of struggles. These, I would posit, are the hallmarks of any good sludge and funeral doom band. One might draw comparisons to the aforementioned Bell Witch or Louisiana natives Eyehategod. Still, I believe this band holds something different, something to differentiate itself from a seemingly over-imbued market of new music that, to this reviewer, often does not hold water. The very vibrations on this album are enough to send me into a depressive episode, but this is only my experience. I would like to take a moment to talk about the first track on the album, “Marrowed”. As it compares to the second track, this one is decidedly shorter and to the point: it clocks in at a little over thirteen minutes in length. This is more than enough time for the band to posit their metaphorical thesis statement and they use this run-time to absolutely blow me away. Each laborious movement of the track was painful and filled with the suffering that I would again posit that inspires great art. This is not to say great art cannot come out of happiness, but I often am drawn towards art that comes out of the inherent, existential pain that comes from living in the modern age. The final track (perhaps breakdown if one so wishes to call it) is marked by a sudden, heart-stopping scream and the aural onslaught that this band has presented to us. The second track is where the band truly settles into a groove, and not in the Gojira brand way. The languorous nature of the opening gives way to that same tireless energy as if one is cataloging the movement of a glacier or capturing the slow drying of paint upon a wall.

Album art by Michaela Bocchino

I found that upon listening to this release, I had to take several breaks and take off my headphones, not out of disgust or boredom, but out of feeling overwhelmed. A quick body scan revealed my heart rate had increased and I felt the tightness in my chest that, for me, indicates an oncoming panic attack. I knew this was simply me fusing to the music, but I couldn’t help but NOT continue listening until after doing a short breathing exercise to get my wits about me. As I pressed on, I noticed that I couldn’t keep away from the album, as if some morbid curiosity kept me pushing through the discomfort. This may sound like a horror story to some, or an overreaction or a bit of hyperbole to others, and I will maintain that these are truly the things I experienced upon listening to this stellar debut album. Each carnal scream kept me plodding on through my day, and stuck in my memory, like a shard of glass in skin.


As is my wont, I must say I only have one criticism for the album. It is, perhaps, a little nitpicky of me to say, but I only wish it were longer. That morbid curiosity I mentioned in the paragraph above left me wanting more. I eagerly await more material from this band of promising, young upstarts. To briefly go back to the album’s liner notes, “Anger cannot exist without sorrow”. Among the dreary trappings that this release presents, I find the anger rising within me. The world does indeed continue to exist but continues to ostracize and alienate those who only wish to exist as they struggle with their respective struggles. The apathetic response is deeply embedded in our attitudes and should be noted here; I only hope that people can take this righteous fury and apply it to making a change not only for yourself but to the world around you. I hope you, dear reader, find the same common humanity I see in this fantastic debut release.