This is my first negative review, written in Jun 2016 and then submitted to Encyclopaedia Metallum where it was rejected due to a bad grammar. Despite of the fact that I managed to write two reviews before and both were accepted, I still don’t know how I neglected articles (zero, a/an, the). Nevertheless, a user on Metallum’s forum edited the first and half of the second paragraph and I made some changes from there. As it is November now, I decided to publish the review and I will update it if that user appears again with her appreciated help.
Shocking chewing gum (30%)
Sorrow Plagues were one of my favourite bands in the post-black metal niche until this record came out. An Eternity of Solitude and Disconsolate show that David is capable of creating music enriched with lethargic but prominent sorrow as well as enough variety within successful repetition.
When the single Aspirations (later included on the self-titled album) was released, I was satisfied because it provided something new while keeping the nice atmosphere. After a while, a second single called Fade appeared which I immediately identified as an evil twin of Aspirations because of its overused elements that resemble a violin or a synth (or some other programmed indefinable instrument). When the album appeared, it was clear that this sound is stretched like cheap chewing gum through the entire record except for the last song, Redemption. It succeeds in achieving good quality cheerful melancholia typical for the post music and it’s not because it’s the most post-rock and the least post-black track here, but because it doesn’t want for us only to chew, it wants for us to eat, to feast on its black bile mixed with victorious spices in the ratio 1:3. Length of Redemption is justified by its ability to hold the attention with a crescendo that is built from the beginning until the end; the same strategy and similar sound are used by the post-rock bands like Sleeping Bear, Líam and If These Trees Could Talk.
I can forgive the use of a drum machine (with decent dynamics here), but not the guitars put in a background from where they can overshadow (only a few times!) an awfully repeated bright robotics in a favour of a more natural, forlorn sound that shares with them only the same notes. This is a clear example of how the same stuff played on different instruments (including artificial) can completely change the emotional effect on a listener.
The songs have a potential to develop, but they disappoint very quickly, which is easy to hear on Surrender that sounds promising in first 16 seconds with nicely distorted, swirling guitar(s) before the drums appear and step on the gum that sticks vigorously for 3 minutes and then recedes for a few seconds in a favour of some nostalgic notes which appear to be played on a piano (you’re never sure with the multi-instrumentalist).
The colour of the vocal is of my taste, but they are set low in the mix and appear rarely. Probable intention was to add some atmosphere – and it worked! I can still see him struggling to chew that bittersweet gum and when he finally succeeds, the bubble explodes in his face and he starts screeching. My advice to you: never mistake a chewing gum for a bubble gum when you record an album. Also, If you like uplifting post-black metal very distanced from black metal’s essence, this record might be your choice. And if you have a hearing impairment, don’t worry, there’s nothing to shock you.
Additional info: the following album Homecoming is out and it makes me homesick for their old sound.