In recent years there seems to have been a boom in one-man metal projects. Whether it’s the proliferation of recording equipment and audio tech that allows people to sound like whole suites of performers from the comfort of their bedroom, or if it’s just that modern life necessitates more isolation, it’s become a real staple of heavy music. Ukraine’s SORROWFUL LAND is one such one-man band; the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Max Molodtsov has so far released two full lengths – 2016’s Of Ruins… and 2018’s I Remember – and now returns for his third addition to the tapestry of mournful doom, Faded Anchors Of The Past.
A solid hour of low and slow doom spread across eight tracks, Faded Anchors Of The Past bides its time in delivering killer emotional blows, never rushing to surprise conclusions, insisting instead on stopping to soak in every vista on this rainy, winding journey. As Long As We Breathe lays SORROWFUL LAND’s manifesto bare right at the top, with glacial drums crashing beneath soaring, morose guitar lines. The death growl vocals of Pierre Laube (DOOMED) cast a pall over everything, which seems fitting considering this is a song dedicated to the issues facing our planet. “Who gave you the right to kill the Earth with your deeds?” asks the press notes. Who indeed?
The Cold Grey Fog Of Dawn is as all-encompassing and mysterious as its title suggests. Employing the help of SOLILOQUIUM‘s Stefan Nordstrom and WITHIN THE FALL’s Henrik Ekholm, the track comes along in waves of guttural roars and melancholy cleans, but never the twixt shall meet. While this could have resulted in a very A-B-A-B repetitive formula, the wall of crushing guitars tie it all together with a black, rain-soaked bow. However, Small Lost Moments, which immediately follows, feels as if we’ve been here before. Relying on the same clean-heavy pattern – this time calling upon A DREAM OF POE duo Kaivan Saraei and Miguel Santos – there’s a sinking circling feeling that starts to descend. Even the effective duet lines of “Relinquish me now / Relinquish me here / Creates a sense of paranoia / Each and every day” aren’t quite enough to lift this from feeling like Faded Anchors Of The Past is stuck in a loop.
Where The Sullen Waters Flow takes a darker and more intimate route, as Molodtsov opts for whispered vocals that steadily grow into a rasping speech, and eventually climb to a roared peak. The atmosphere hangs thick around this track and despite running for more than nine-and-a-half minutes, there are enough twists and changes of pace to keep you fully invested. Again though, certain elements begin to feel rehashed, particularly guitar lines, when The Night Is Darkening Around Me rolls around. Even the poetry of Emily Bronte from whence this song takes its inspiration cannot wholly lift this one out of the quagmire or repetition.
Faded Anchors Of The Past is a perfectly serviceable slab of doom, taking as much from funeral-doom as it does from death-doom and resulting in a swirling, if slightly uneven, storm of solemn metal. As SORROWFUL LAND, Molodtsov has showcased great proficiency for conveying emotion via moving passages that sway from crunching heaviness to delicate softness, but it may be time to pick a more purposeful lane.
Faded Anchors Of The Past is set for release on January 27th via Black Lion Records.
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