Friday, September 21, 2012

Trails of Sorrow: Languish in Oblivion (2012)


Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards, Etc.

Trails of Sorrow are an Italian funeral doom band who released their debut Languish in Oblivion earlier this month. This two-piece just formed in 2011, so unsurprisingly this was my first encounter with their material.

Slow, sluggish guitar riffs drift slog their way through a sea of simulated instrumentation as the record gets underway. The drumming, piano, and any other occasional backing sounds are all handled electronically, which gives this record an odd feel. Rather than going for a deep, rough, organically heavy sound like many doom and funeral doom bands, these guys opt for a heavily processed, weirdly detached approach. There are places where it works. The riffing is sufficiently heavy and gloomy, and the somewhat alien atmosphere of the record can really click into place with the guitar and the guttural roars of the vocalist to create an effective experience.

Unfortunately, there are three major issues which rear their ugly heads to spoil the effect.

First off, the mix and recording quality is quite poor. By that I don't mean rough and hazy like an underground black metal act, I mean it sounds like it was recorded and assembled at home on an inexpensive laptop studio program. Sometimes this isn't much of an issue, but there are places where an instrument comes in and you can just tell that this wasn't mixed by a professional. If you're into the DIY sound then I guess that's not a big factor, and I tried not to let it bother me too much but occasionally it did anyway.

Second, the record doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. Apart from a couple instrumental interludes, there's really no difference from one song to the next, so that I started to lose interest somewhere around the mid-point of the album. I kept listening hoping for some small change of pace, but it never came. Now I realize funeral doom relies heavily on repetition and slow development, but there is still a difference between moving slowly and standing still.

Finally, and this is by far my biggest gripe, the clean spoken vocals are absolutely awful. They feel like they're meant to be deeply moving, but instead they just sound horribly forced, goofy, and melodramatic. In spite of the sub-par production and the feeling of stagnation, I still enjoyed a lot of this record for its effective meaty heaviness and oppressive gloom. Every time I found myself really starting to get into it, though, those stupid, terrible clean vocals would pop up and ruin everything.

While I realize this review is largely negative, the band does have redeeming qualities. I believe that with a little time to grow and mature and with some better recording equipment at their disposal, this duo is capable of producing some good funeral doom. They really need to ditch their current style of clean spoken vocals, though, because the ones they have now are a disaster.

The Verdict: 2 out of 5 stars

Domestic Genocide Records

1 comment:

  1. I really like this review. I checked out some of their music and I agree--it's very interesting, but the production absolutely kills it. Production is SO important in doom, and even moreso in funeral doom. Hearing just a little I don't have a problem with the vocals, but maybe I would if I heard the whole thing.

    I noticed I had made a typo in the title, so I had "Trials of Sorrow," which I actually like better.