If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that I should “never say never” about bands or artists making a comeback. Lake of Tears has been inactive, mostly, for almost a decade, and yet here that familiar name is once again. The new album is called “Ominous”, and it is releases on February 19th through AFM Records.
Lake of Tears are legendary for their pioneering efforts in Swedish dark melodic music. The band broke up back in 2000, but reemerged for a couple more albums in the time since then. Right now, it seems like Lake of Tears is more of a solo project from original member, Daniel Brennare. I cannot find a lineup for this album (which seems to be a common issue with new releases right now), so I’m thinking that Daniel basically handles everything here.
The band always did have an eclectic palette to offer. They are best known for their Gothic metal, but they have experimented with prog rock, psychedelia, and electronic ideas in the past. I’m actually a big fan of their 1999 effort “Forever Autumn”, which was a wistful, serene album that closely matched its titular aura. This new album seems to include a bit of everything, feeling heavy, folksy, electronic, and experimental all at the same time. It also feels dark, very dark; the album itself is instilled with stark melancholy, doomy grooves, blackened strings, and emotional imagery comparing a journey within one’s self to that of a space traveller discovering terrifying new worlds and horrifying life forms.
It is an effective sound, one that evolves slowly over the course of the album, which will put you in a mind space of a low lights and hesitant introspection. The album shifts from a kinetic, slick feeling into candid sadness and ambient desire. Near the end, the record ends up feeling a bit more nostalgic, as if looking back on past loss or nursing ancient wounds. For some reason, the last few tracks invoke thoughts of Johnny Cash writing Gothic, ambient metal songs, and I’ve really taken to that idea. The use of strings, I believe violin, is seriously meaningful on this record, too, bringing in haunting rhythms and new melodies to help songs grow and progress satisfyingly.
The album opens with the two singles, “At the Destination” and “In Wait and in Worries”. The former feels spacey, flowing, and locomotive in presentation. I absolutely love that opener, as it gets my blood moving. “In Wait and in Worries” changes things up immediately with an ambient, moody track that feels acoustic, intimate, and shadowy. The album visits still other textures from there.
“Lost in a Moment” is a good example of this. As the third track, it has a mighty, troublesome tone that feels rather threatening and razor-edged. It is one of my favorites overall. The title track is yet another good example, being separated into two tracks that are quite different from each other. “Ominous One” is a short, energetic affair full of distortion and doom. “Ominous Too” is slower with violin taking a major role. It plods along with eerie, lumbering soulfulness until it climaxes in grand fashion.
The second half of the album is just as fantastic as the first. We get songs like “One Without Dreams” that really brings the rock sound and an addictive central guitar lick; yet also songs like “The End of This World”, which is heavier and features explosive violin work that sears it into my memory. I absolutely love the last half of that song for its colossal drums and painfully bright strings. The album technically ends with “Cosmic Sailor”, a nostalgic tune full of whispers and wonderful vocal lines that fades into a dark vacuum at the end. The album also has a bonus track called “In Gloom”; it might feel the most “folk” of all the tracks, and I love the pining familiarity of the strings and guitars. As far as bonus tracks go, this one is excellent.
“Ominous” is a surprise in more ways than one. I didn’t expect to get a new Lake of Tears album; and, yet, here it lives. I also didn’t expect it to be such a cerebral, gratifying affair, one that bids us to follow it into dreary worlds of inner imagination and murky motion. This album is definitely one of winter, greyness, and despondency, yet somehow I always feel enlightened and animated as it ends. Of course, I am invigorated by sad music, especially Gothic textures, so maybe it is just me.
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