REVIEW: Lake of Tears – Ominous

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Swedish Gothic metal band LAKE OF TEARS should need no introduction. Such excellent albums as “Headstone” (1995), “A Crimson Cosmos” (1997), or “The Neonai” (2002) are already milestones in their rich discography, though not as well-known as stunning “Forever Autumn” (1999) is. Ten years after their latest studio effort, “Illwill” (2011), Daniel Brennare – as the sole member of the band – is releasing a new album, suitably named “Ominous.” The record is available on February 19, 2021, on AFM Records.

If ever there was an album that fully captures what it is like to deal with depression and solitude, then “Ominous” is definitely the one. Each note, each word, and each vocal line is so full of sorrow and misery that one can almost feel the weight of those dark thoughts pressing down on you as the album unfolds. The atmosphere is equally as bleak and desolate throughout. LAKE OF TEARS was always a very minimalistic band when it comes to its approach to music, and yet “Ominous” feels even more austere than most everything else the band has released so far. It also has a very cold and distant feel to the music, unlike the warmth of “Forever Autumn,” and it really goes hand-in-hand with the somber artwork.

There is a strong sense of loneliness and isolation that is very much the backbone of the entire album, as the songs are so gloomy and foreboding, with the vocals being almost spoken and/or whispered at times, and pleading at others as the instrumental moves around them. There’s a sweeping violin that permeates through some of the songs, adding to this feeling of melancholy and hopelessness. The singles, like the more upbeat “At the Destination” and the forlorn “In Wait and in Worries,” which also happen to be the first two tracks on the album, set a really grim tone to the music and highlight perfectly what is to follow. And true enough, the next tracks only add more shades of gray and black to the musical canvas that is “Ominous,” blending into each other seamlessly. If you don’t pay attention, you won’t realize when one song ends and the next one begins, that’s how well this album is put together. “Lost in a Moment” has a more preeminent drum sound overlaid with an eerie atmosphere, aggressive riffs, and a powerful vocal delivery that makes for an uneasy listening experience. This track presents another facet of the album – it’s ugly and almost dissonant at times, as most everything born out of a negative headspace.

Carrying this feeling forward is “Ominous One,” a heavier and more energetic affair that injects a bit of dynamism to the album. To counterbalance the build-up in energy and aggression, “Ominous Too” starts off on more discordant notes with the violin as a primary drive but soon enough more layers are added to the fold, making the track feel progressively darker and brooding. Post-rocker “One Without Dreams” has some lamenting vocals on top of a wicked guitar lead, though it plods along at a constant pace. Instrumental piece “The End of This World” meshes together electronic sounds, pounding drums, and even some violin lines in a dirty and clashing soundscape. The 7-minute-long number “Cosmic Sailor” may be seen as the light at the end of the tunnel, being less turbulent than the previous tracks and displaying not just a more serene vocal approach but also a sense of peace and tranquility. Bonus track “In Gloom” is a borderline acoustic track, with some folky violin and cello lines in the background and gentle vocals that close the album on a bluesy note. This and “Cosmic Sailor” are probably the most beautiful tracks “Ominous” has to offer.   

All-in-all, “Ominous” is not an easy record to digest mostly because of its general dark mood and sullen tone. However, the songs are fairly diverse and cover a wide spectrum of genres, from progressive metal to Gothic rock, with some doom metal thrown into the mix for good measure. What Daniel Brennare has crafted here is a testament to music’s power of healing and clarity as it has allowed him to find the right forms of expression and thus transform sorrow and pain into art. It’s not the first such album and it surely won’t be the last. By far a heavier and darker LAKE OF TEARS album than the rest, “Ominous” is, at its core, a very introspective and emotional journey through the depths of human suffering. So get ready for a deep dive in murky waters.

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. At the Destination
  2. In Wait and in Worries
  3. Lost in a Moment
  4. Ominous One
  5. Ominous Too
  6. One Without Dreams
  7. The End of This World
  8. Cosmic Sailor
  9. In Gloom (Bonus Track)

Lineup

Daniel Brennare – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards

Label

AFM Records

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