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“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." - Edgar Allan Poe
And this is exactly what this album is about. It delivers words, notes, and lines that are composed with emotional intelligence to convey the true horrifying and painful experience of death at the classiest way.
The 11th hour is one of Ed Warby’s projects on which he did a massive effort starting with the composition and ending with the distinctive mixing. In this album you will find yourself drowning in a dark sea of loss and pain, elevating and drawing you in all directions - in its lyrics, melodies, and performance.
Appreciating Roger Johansson's performance on their 2009 debut, “Burden of Grief”, yet here the vocals create the most intoxicating entwining that's ever been made as Pim Blankenstein’s guttural growls are phenomenal whereas Warby sticks to clean vocals, making it paradoxical, yet united in every song.
This shows clearly in the songs “We All Die Alone” and “Reunion Illusion”, where the vocals are complimented by the keyboards which are played perfectly throughout the whole album and especially in “The Death of Life” where keyboards master the melodies of this song.
What is also distinctive are the riffs on the album; they are heavy, more emotional, and lean towards death metal riffs, stressing Warby’s own traditional musical roots and they are so enjoyable and haunting, showing the clear quality in which this album has been made. “Rain on Me” and “Nothing But Pain” are the best when it comes to heavier riffs within the album.
“Damn my solitude, without your presence all is void....” - "Rain on Me", a killer line!
“They come to shed their tears
For the loved ones buried here
Their woe is raw and deep
Sustains us while we sleep”
- "Tears of the Bereaved", phenomenal poetic and the most passionate lyrics ever...it drowns my heart in sadness and sends shivers down my spine!
Upon listening to the album, I was moved like never before, but while hearing the lyrics word for word and comprehending the vision in a clearer perspective, I am speechless. “Bury Me” and “Tears of the Bereaved” are definitely a lyrical win, so beautiful and so majestic and yet they made me heavyhearted. Salutes and respect and bows lower than I'd give to anyone else.
Warby played all the instruments on this album, the bass compliments the guitar playing in an amazing way, and solos are emotional and perfect. The drumming here did not have a huge influence as it stayed in its safer area, but kept steady and never went off-tune.
What makes this album so distinctive is Warby’s vision and his composing and execution of it, along side the phenomenal vocals of Blankenstein. In short, it's an absolute sheer talent.
When reviewing the debut album of Dutch doom/death metallers The 11th Hour 3 years ago I commented about the "The Burden of Grief" that while it had it's strong moments it was far too prosaic and safe in nature to warrant a grade higher than the 6 it got. Well, now on album two, "Lacrima Mortis" and the outcome is still very much the same despite there now being a full line-up behind the album's mournful proposition as it is hard to avoid the feeling each of the seven songs here are too similar to one another to justify the 11th Hour as a top band of the genre.
Still essentially the band of Ed Warby, his clean vocals are the defining feature in the mix; the slow, gothic tempos roll on morosely and dispassionately, emphasising the dejected and sorrowful nature of the lyrics to create a dark tapestry high on pessimism but low on individual identity. In "Rain on Me" the archetype sound of the band is best displayed, where slow heavy riffing sits nicely in the mix with string (via a synth) accompaniment creating the tragic atmosphere requisite of such a subject matter. "The Death of Love" begins with a pleasant example of Warby's clean vocal abilities intertwined with a piano-led riff before the deathly bark of his band co-mate Pim Blankenstein (replacing Rogga Johansson but essentially sounding exactly the same) offers some of the variation that is the band's selling point.
Offering no respite is "Tears of the Bereaved", which sound very much like recent Candlemass whereby both bands are exponents of the heavy modern production style that in this writer's opinion is far from the ideal when attempting to convey darkness and misery in the quantity 11th Hour wish to do so, and "Reunion Illusion" which opens with the strongest riff from the album, one of true doom merit and which recalls Isole and their modern take on the genre. Thus despite their positive moments, unfortunately "Lacrima Mortis" falls back too quickly into the same vocal and riffing patterns that have been heard before, solid but unmoving as they struggle to hold a charge for greatness. On a par with "The Burden of Grief", "Lacrima Mortis" offers a solid ride to fans of the doom/death genre but more memorable hooks and song structures and needed to really get this doomhead caught on.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
I’ll admit to being a Warby Weenie. I love Gorefest as well as Hail of Bullets, so I followed the production process of this album (via Facebook) more than any other album before. I was naturally excited for its release, but also a bit worried, as I had hyped it up in my mind. Most albums never quite match my expectations and they seem like a letdown initially. I’m happy to say this is one of those rare instances where the hype was exceeded.
What you get here is 52 minutes of doomy death metal across 7 tracks, filled with clean and harsh vocals, soulful piano melodies, along with some (dare I say) uplifting guitar riffs. It does everything the first album did and improves upon it 10-fold. This is the way you want a band to improve: Stay true to their sound and keep polishing and refining. Frankly, this album is so stunning, I have no idea where they go from here. It will be a daunting task to follow up.
I can’t pinpoint any specific song over the others, as the entire album is so strong, everything about it just works and falls into place. And if I sound overly “gaga” about this, I AM. I don’t find many doomy death records you can just put on over and over again and enjoy this much.
Ed Warby’s clean vocals are a breath of fresh air, without being all that different or overly remarkable. They just work perfectly. The same can be said of Pim’s Blankenstein’s harsh vocals. Rogga Johansson was a fine growler (on the first album), but having Pim’s voice on this just gives it that extra new feeling of someone we don’t hear enough of. I’m sure this will only help as a carryover to the live performance, which Pim has been handling since the debut album.
What I feel is the true brilliance of this record is that it caters to many types of listeners, without compromising what it is or feeling the least bit forced. If you like death, doom, or atmospheric heavy metal, there’s something for you. No one element seems to overstay its welcome. Unless you are a hardcore Nightwish or Nile fan and won’t listen to anything else, almost any metalhead should find something they like. Lacrima Mortis doesn’t break any new barriers, nor try to, yet it doesn’t really sound like anyone else in the genre either.
You also won’t find a better sounding album this year. Everything has a wonderfully earthy clarity to and retains all the doomy heaviness you could imagine. It sounds expertly crafted and meticulously gone over with a fine tooth comb, while retaining a very natural vibe. It doesn’t reek as too polished and run through a computer 7 million times. No small feat indeed.
You can just feel how personal this is for Ed. It comes across not just in his vocals, but in the interplay between all the elements. We know these solo projects are always done for personal satisfaction. But this feels so genuine and cathartic it’s hard not to get sucked into it all.