Key to December
posted on 4/2011 By:
I had high hopes for this release after discovering Amber Tears is a doom band from Russia with supposed folk and Pagan influences, and I'd even heard Draconian references thrown around.
But alas, while Draconian (and indeed other doom stalwarts like My Dying Bride, Insomnium, Saturnus, Officuim Triste, Pantheist, etc) is a suitable reference for Amber Tears and their melancholy-filled rending style of rumbling, morose doom, the songwriting and atmosphere just never really take hold.
With a very Finnish formula that includes woeful and lurching slow riffs layered with somber melodies, gruff vocals and plenty of synths, Amber Tears has the mood and ambience down pat, but whereas many of their peers have the ability to create riffs and harmonies that just pull on your heart strings and bring a tear to your eye, Amber Tears just never creates any tangible emotions. Sure the music is sad and mopes with a crumbling heft and certain somber beauty, but the riffs just don’t quite take it over the emotional edge. Even with heavy keyboard work and plenty of instrumental ambience, I just never truly feel any sense of pain or loss. Vocalist Anton Bandurin has a suitably pained, gruff roar, but again, I’m not really feeling any raw emotion in his performance. That being said the album's middle section of “?? ?????? ????? (Away from the Sun)”, “?? ???? ????? (Beyond the Edge of Skies)” (the track that comes the closest to being a standout), and “????? ??????? ???? (When Snow Will Melt Away)” is enjoyable and competent. But the pace is pretty repetitive and none of the songs really stand out from each other. I just don’t see myself returning to Amber Tears when I’m a little down and need a soundtrack to misery.
I should also mention that the purported pagan/folk element here is understated and conveyed by the lyrics (at least, I assume so, as the songs are in Russian) and a few acoustic folky tinkles and interludes here and there (“????? ?????? [Like a Silent Stream]”, “?????? ????? [Through the Snows]”), but it’s not like this is a doom version of Eluveitie or anything. Which is actually a shame, as I think a truly folk- or pagan-infused band with innate Russian ethnicity could be pretty good. I hope Amber Tears can fill that void more successfully on the next album.
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