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REVIEW: On Thorns I Lay – “Aegean Sorrow”

Since the dawn of art, artists have been obsessed over the theme of death. Multiple paintings heavily romanticize this topic, with death often embracing or caressing the dying. But why do humans have such an interest in their inevitable end? Well, this I can’t answer, but I can show you another fantastic work of art revolving around death and beauty. Death metal that is, in this case. On Thorns I Lay is a melodic death metal band based in Greece. Their new album, Aegean Sorrow, will come out on the March 12.

Fans of Be’lakor will feel right at home here. With mid-tempo, sensible melodies and a gloomy, dark feel, Aegean Sorrow feels carefully crafted even when a raw sense of unhinged intimacy is maintained. Romanticized, almost gothic melodies creep though this album like sorrow through a husk. But let’s look at the first two tracks now:

The opening track, pragmatically titled “Intro”, starts with soaring amp feedback and a monologue over it in a very deep, raspy, slightly distorted voice. And quickly, we are introduced to our first melody. The lead line has an almost Arabic feel in terms of the scale used. Luckily, its jumpy rhythm is kept pleasantly in check by the background instrumentation. Speaking of which: the guitar and bass greatly convey the gloomy feeling that sets the overall tone for the whole record. If the melody is the sunshine, then every other instrument is the dark and cold night following its every step.

Moving onto vocals, they mostly seem to be the growling low type of vocals that are fairly standard for death metal, but fit perfectly nonetheless. Often times it is better to do something very well that has been done before than to lose the thread in something abstract. And let me tell you, the vocals are done quite well, without much production effort or effects to bend them into place. They feel quite natural and almost beautiful. A piano interlude interrupts this play of light and dark motifs and brings an almost pure sense of wonder to the soundscape. This is a very good start to an album and probably my favorite track off of this one.

Other tracks on the album have a similar structure, with varying degrees of orchestration and tempo. The melodies are the highlight of every song, with them being vastly different and sometimes interwoven with aforementioned orchestration.

Aegean Sorrow is homage to melo death itself. It tries to capture romantic, yet progressive ideas of a genre that is almost an oxymoron. This is definitely one of the more sophisticated and better releases of the genre. The playful orchestration also helps the record retain a sense of adventurism. Sadly, the album is not without flaw. The production hinders the album from transcending from an astoundingly good to an excellent band. Fortunately, the original fascination stays with the album. Every melody feels like its their own, not copied and pasted from a book of musical scales. I hope they bring us another album in the future for me to admire and watch them grow.

 

Score: 8.5/10

Notable Tracks: “Aegean Sorrow”; “Everos”.

FFO: Be’lakor, Okera.

You can follow On Thorns I Lay on Bandcamp as well as on Facebook.

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