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Amber Tears : Key To December

Amber Tears original sound of guitar does a lot to the Pagan aura of the band. band.

From Russia with despair...

First and foremost, I have to admit that after the intro (which finds itself filled with background voices smothered in ambience and atmospheric keyboards) slipped past to begin this album, I had momentarily thought that I may have accidentally put on one of my Draconian albums instead of the Amber Tears album I was supposed to be listening to. As it turns out, I was incorrect... but all in the same, it wasn't a far fetched moment of confusion.

Now, before I go any further, I have to say that I'm not in any way trying to put this band down. Although in a very similar Gothic Death Doom vein to Draconian, they still hold their own quite well and not every track is the same formulaic process as the last, which can often be seen in the aforementioned sub-genre. Plus, unlike Draconian, Amber Tears do not have female vocals here, which I think helps the album flow better (I, myself, have no problem with female vocals, but I never cared much for them in the Gothic Doom albums that I've heard).

One unique thing that my ears picked up (and also judging by other people's thoughts, I'm not alone here) is that, from time to time, the guitar tone is almost identical to the sound of bagpipes. I'm not sure how everyone will take that, but I think it sounds awesome and definitely adds a slightly different level to the music they're putting forth.

As far the as the album as a whole goes, you do have a good, healthy dose of melancholy-filled lead guitar parts (they come off as having a very depressing aura and being despair-driven, as it's often the case with this style of music) over atmospheric keyboard sections and steady drum patterns (the drumwork, in fact, albeit competent, doesn't really deviate much from merely setting the pace of the tracks. There aren't any real interesting patterns or fills minus a few small moments, but that too isn't all too common in this style. I will say that, while it doesn't really further enhance the band's sound, it doesn't take away from it either), with the occasional use of acoustic guitar sections and a mixture of growled and clean (which are sometimes almost in a spoken fashion) vocals. The sixth and final tracks on the album ('Тихим ручьем - Like a Silent Stream', 'Печаль серых холмов - Gray Hill's Sadness' and 'Сквозь снега - Through the Snows') have a very folk-ish, Agalloch feel to them, which I find to be fantastic sounding. At times, though, it doesn't help that I don't speak even the slightest bit of Russian, so the vocals from a lyrical standpoint mean absolutely nothing to me, unless I were to look up the translation somewhere. Even with that distance between me and the intimacy of the lyrical work, I really enjoy Anton's clean vocal work (And find that his death growls occasionally remind me of the frontman from Hail Of Bullets).

All in all, I would say that, even if you aren't a huge fan of the whole Gothic/Romantic Death Doom subgenre, I would give these guys a listen. As I've mentioned, it's not the same recipe throughout and if you like your music dripping with melancholy and bits of despair, but not quite reaching the Funeral Doom landscapes, this may be right up your alley. 'Key To December' is sure to hold its own amongst its contemporaries.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Голос пустой Зимы (Voice of Hollow Winter)
2. Бесконечность серых дней (Gray Days Eternity)
3. От Солнца прочь (Away from the Sun)
4. За край Небес (Beyond the Edge of Skies)
5. Когда растает снег (When Snow Will Melt Away)
6. Тихим ручьем (Like a Silent Stream)
7. Печаль серых холмов (Gray Hill's Sadness)
8. Сквозь снега (Through the Snows)

Duration : Approx.: 42 minutes

Visit the Amber Tears bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-01-25 by Jon Carr
Forever Autumn
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