Saturday, 20 October 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Old Silver Key - Tales of Wanderings


Genre - Shoegaze/Post-Black Metal

1. What Once Was and Will Never Happen Again

2. November Nights Insomnia

3. Cold Spring

4. Nineteen Winters Far Away From Home

5. Star Catcher

6. Burnt Letters

7. About Which an Old House Dreams

When I first heard the news of a new project combining the creative forces of both ALCEST mastermind Neige and Roman Saenko of the almighty Ukranian Black Metal act DRUDKH, my inner fanboy was set to hyperactive overdrive. It’s no secret that I’ve loved pretty much everything Neige has ever been a part of, and the same could have been said about DRUDKH if you ignore their (at the time) latest musical abortion “Handful of Stars”. The hype and anticipation that revolved around this release was huge, and what we received in the end was one of the biggest, most underwhelming and uninspired disappointments of the year. Essentially everything “Tales of Wanderings” should have been with the influence of the collective genius behind the project, it isn’t. The best I can perceive this at all is that the only way DRUDKH could decide to become even more of a limp wristed ALCEST clone was to go one step further and hire the fucking man himself for vocals and masquerade it under a different guise. Seriously, it even sounds like he doesn’t want to fucking even be there his vocals are that dull and lifeless.

Musically OLD SILVER KEY has almost nothing to do with Black Metal, there are a few vague traces present in the riffing styles which crop up from time to time but nothing overtly significant; “Tales of Wandering’s” main focal point is on light, breezy shoegaze rhythms and prog rock based structures. The only problem is it completely lacks any substance, force and inspiration in the guitar passages, with a tone with about as much body as a French supermodel. They sound like one of those countless floppy fringed nineties alternative bands who never managed to make it, and for good fucking reason too. Oh indeed there are some decent, hell even marginally interesting moments on the album, but it’s really not enough to save it from  being consigned to the ‘really fucking boring ‘ bin.

‘Nineteen Winters Far Away From Home’ is the first track to make any sort of discernible impression upon my by now flatlining brain, with some faint Black Metal influences in the riffs which are actually quite nostalgic and dare I say, interesting. The drumming is fucking terrible though, it sounds like they planted a three year old behind the kit and handed him a stick. But guess what? It’s an instrumental, so take from that what you will. Ok that’s being a bit harsh on Neige, he’s actually quite decent on ‘Star Catcher’, my personal highlight of the album. I say decent, he moulds his voice around the music well and delivers some nice spirited melodies, but it’s far from his best. He just doesn’t sound comfortable singing in English it seems. The guitar carries that wistful sense of longing extremely well and eventually builds up to something you could actually call a decent track. ‘Burnt Letters’, the promo track again is remarkably average, with some impressive guitar riffs scattered about the vast dreariness, sounding something more ALCEST-like in its frantic guitar driven climax than any of the other tracks. ‘About Which an Old House Dreams’ is listenable too, a meandering, smokey number awash with an aquamarine reminiscence and nostalgia and Neige’s best vocal performance on the whole album.

The problem is that when the music is described just as ‘listenable’, especially from these two creative forces, it’s just not good enough. The end result is utter fucking hackneyed and humdrum monotony that sounds like a shitty Black Metal band making their worst attempt at being a tenth generation ALCEST clone with a mish mash of incoherent ideas and lazy execution. The worst thing about it is we’re all aware of what both artists are capable of, DRUDKH and ALCEST are both light years beyond most other Extreme Metal acts, but here it appears they just cancel each other out and couldn’t be fucking arsed at all and the end result is as dull as fucking dishwater. Well, it could be worse, it could have been “Handful of Stars”, at least there’s that I suppose, for make no mistake beating your head repeatedly off a slab of concrete is more rewarding than listening to that heap of rage inducing shit. It’s just unfortunate a significant portion of it rubs off here too. “Tales of Wandering”? My mind certainly wandered anyway...


Sounds like - Handful of stars - Drudkh, Elevator music, the washing machine

Originally written for Metal Observer

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