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The heyday of death/doom tinged, beauty and the beast oriented Gothic metal reached its peak in the late 1990s, particularly insofar as the Norwegian strain of the style was concerned. Spearheading a number of prominent bands from around this time period was a violinist by the name of Pete Johansen, providing a sort of alternative to the lead guitar as an instrument with his wailing melodic passages, which graced the sonic tableau of Tristania, Sirenia, and a veritable super-group in The Sins Of Thy Beloved. The latter of these projects proved to be a fairly short-lived studio venture, but also provided the most appropriate atmosphere by which Johansen would create his off-kilter violin solos, not to mention one of the most emotionally charged efforts to ever come out said scene, rivaling even the most tantalizing of Theater Of Tragedy's early efforts with Liv Kristine.
The debut album of this 8 piece mega-band, dubbed Lake Of Sorrow, can best be likened to an ocean of sound, as layer upon layer of atmospheric elements make the high number of musicians appropriate, particularly in recreating such a sound live. The pace of things is punishingly slow, largely relying on gradual progression from a crawl to an occasional stride of double bass drum activity, which serves as more of an additional layer of sound to complement the still extremely slow surrounding elements. The most dynamic player in this tragic play is Pete's violin solos, which occur quite frequently relative to the vocal activity, almost acting as a third voice type that competes with the traditional beauty and the beast vocal set up. The contrasting vocal passages are mostly split up into distinct sections, only occasionally engaging in close interplay, almost as if the characters were worlds apart, which is even further underscored by the distant sounding, reverb-steeped production of Anita Auglend's angelic croons relative to the massively close sounding growls, which are accomplished using two vocalists functioning as one.
The general flow of things from beginning to end are almost akin to a pyramid, starting from a trough point of slow trudging woe and gradually building in intensity until it hits the crest right at the center of the album, then sort of tapers off until coming back to where things began. The opening song "My Love" and the followup "The Kiss" fall just shy of being interchangeable with each other, differing primarily in how they begin and maybe a bit more in the sense that the former has a greater feeling of drama, climbing up the mountain with a greater degree of focus and purpose, whereas the latter expresses a somewhat more fatigued feel with a serene violin intro (as opposed to the extended growl at the beginning of "My Love") followed by a more droning and fatalistic feel. "Worthy Of You" ushers in another emotionally charged violin intro out of Johansen, this one being quite a bit longer and far more intense, followed by a somewhat faster feel, both in terms of beat and in how rapidly the voices and violin succeed each other, not to mention a bit more activity out of the guitars, which have otherwise been relegated to rhythmic drones to give each song its metallic edge.
Right dead in the center of this collection of epic compositions is where things climax, as the title song "Lake Of Sorrow" introduces a shift in timing, as well as in general feel akin to reaching the summit of the mountain and gazing into the depressive skyline at midnight. One wouldn't be off-base in describing this song as a celebratory waltz of woe, as the layering of violin and piano sounds paint a vivid musical picture of a Gothic ballroom scene with lovelorn couples dancing by the cold gaze of the moon. "Until Dark" shifts the feel into ballad territory, almost to the point of morphing into a Nightwish styled number, though without the dramatic operatic elements. This is arguably the catchiest of the songs found on here, and also one that features a bit more of Anita Auglend's beautiful voice. "All Alone", which was featured as a promotional song of sorts prior to this LP's release, comes across as a bit more driving and methodical, due mostly to the constant chugging of the guitars and the frequent motion of the piano lines, but it retains that frustratingly slow and long-winded character that dominates the whole of this album. Things leave on a more reminiscent note with "Silent Pain", which closes things out on a somewhat animated note, as if looking back upon what came before and moving away at a faster pace, with Pete's violin chops being at their most agitated and technical.
Rarely does an album come along that is literally so accessible yet inaccessible at the same time that it clings to one's memory like the tightest clasp of two lovers, enamored with each other and oblivious of the decaying world around them. It underscores a period where the developing Gothic metal sound was still tied to its death/doom roots, though downplaying the death metal elements while still cleaving to the aesthetics of the doom sound. The only truly glaring flaw on here, and a forgivable one given the greater emphasis on music and atmosphere, is the limited English abilities of the lyricist, which does occasionally rival some of more glaring errors in grammar encountered in poorly translated Anime flicks. Honestly, I didn't catch any of these errors until after getting a look at the lyrics in the booklet, that's how effective all the other elements were in mystifying the senses. Anyone that took to the early efforts of Theater Of Tragedy, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, Tristania, and even Nightwish will find an unsung classic here in need of a lot more love.
With a band name that reminds me of soft porn titles starring Shannon Tweed and an enigmatic cover that's nevertheless rife with goth cliches, I put this on expecting a club-friendly goth album with some heavy guitars spliced in. Surprisingly, but not regrettably, that didn't turn out to be the case. Opening with what sounds like Barney Gumble belching in slow motion, Lake of Sorrow immediately emphasizes that this release doesn't exactly coddle those whose taste for gothic metal leans towards the commercially viable end of the spectrum. The music soon meanders in and shambles forward with plodding doom riffs and a sluggish tempo draped with miasmic keyboards and melancholy violin melodies. Unless you're a brain eating zombie, you are not going to feel the need to boogie to this.
An unabashed "Beauty and the Beast" effort, the vocals favor the gruff, guttural male growling nearly as much as the wispy angelic female counterpart, smartly not trading off lines too often, although on a few occasions it does sound a bit like some Off-Broadway rock opera about a hopeless relationship between a C.H.U.D and Tinker Bell. Vocally it's unique in that the female vocals are drenched with enough reverb to be deemed less decipherable than the "Beast". Not a common trait for this particular subgenre. Lyrically the themes revolve around being miserable in love and desires from beyond the grave, fitting with the lustrous morass of the music, but not exactly with prose worth reciting at a poetry reading without having to dodge hurled espresso cups.
As "My Love" sets the tone for the entire album, these tunes are long, drawn out, and recycle the admittedly cool ideas over and over to the point of mild annoyance and droopy eyelids. The first few cuts share the same lumbering rhythm to such a degree that the same drum tracks could be used for all three of them. When the fourth number kicks in with a different time signature, it's such a breath of fresh air that I almost feel the urge to celebrate and high-five strangers. Granted, it still drags at a drunk mule's gait, but the 6/8 beat at least conjures up an impression of a sea shanty on a ghost ship. It also briefly flirts with a high speed tempo, yet the murky production and layers of keyboards successfully obscure the burst of aggression.
That's the overlying them to Lake Of Sorrow musically. Boasting eight performers, there's a density to this effort that drowns any sharpness to the instrumentation into a quicksand of gothic sludge, with only one member able to keep his head afloat, that being violinist Pete Johansen. Languishing in the spot normally reserved for guitar soloists, this guy wails away at his instrument with hair whipping glee at any given opportunity, forcing both guitarists into a strictly rhythm mode, in which they have to contend with not one, but two keyboardists for a sense of relevance. Only during "All Alone" do the guitarists stand out with some fetching melodic interplay that actually warrants the need for dual guitarwork. Other than that, one guitarist and/or keyboardist could easily take a break from performing a gig for whatever reason without the songs being compromised whatsoever on stage.
The other noteworthy characteristics I can distinguish concerning variance between songs consist of "Until the Dark" being that one track devoid of growling, which showcases the technically accomplished yet one dimensional 'light as a feather' delivery of Anita, and the final offering boosts the speed up to a mid tempo. Of course, listening to the album throughout its duration, by the time I arrive at that point I'm feeling too damn mopey to acknowledge the marginally increased pace; any attempt to headbang would result with my head remaining down after one rep.
Lake Of Sorrow nestles comfortably within the gothic doom realm, highlighted by numerous violin solos and a stubborn yet noble refusal to throw a bone to those looking for any semblance of commercial appeal. These songs individually work quite well in establishing a haunting and dreary atmosphere, and I can enjoy the sort of experience they bring on a one track basis, but as an entire collection, the sheer nature of this album eventually wears me down with its ideas being persistently revisited for each subsequent tune. It can be an almost crushing experience, but I can appreciate the willfulness to keep things creepy and at a creeping pace.
The Sins Of Thy Beloved are quite a unique band. I remember first hearing them through a friend who was absolutely obsessed with gothic music. She didn't particularly rant and rave about this Norwegian outfit, but she did like them. So, due to that I decided to listen to them and surprisingly, I did quite like them. I'm not a fan of symphonic music. A lot of it is downright dire, but fortunately The Sins Of Thy Beloved tend to incorporate doom metal into their music.
There are a number of problems with this band and a number of people just love to point them out. The lyrics are horrible. I'm an English student and I cannot bare to read them because they have completely and utterly destroyed the language. It's unfair to be too harsh on the band though because English isn't their native language, but you could argue, if you're not fluent with it, why use it at all? They could have stuck to using Norwegian, I wouldn't have minded, in all honesty. I would prefer that to a band who attempts to use a language they're not comfortable with. However, lyrics aren't what makes this band sound the way they do. The creative nature is bound to spark up an interest from a certain amount of people, especially those with a particular liking for symphonic gothic music.
With gothic music tends to come operatic vocals nowadays. I hate operatic vocals, but The Sins Of Thy Beloved just about pull them off. The main female vocalist, yes, there are two, is very fitting for this bands style. Anita Auglend displays much more talent when it comes to singing, than the band do when it comes to actually writing lyrics. The lyrical themes, as well as the actual content of the lyrics, are all a bit cheesy too. Which is a problem to me. I don't enjoy cheese. Not even the food, which people tend to find quite strange.
If I wanted cheese, i'd listen to power metal all day and all night, but considering the fact that I don't, just cut it out and stick to making ethereal soundscapes by using beautiful violins and low growled vocals from the bands male vocalist, Glenn Morten Nordbø. The alternating nature of the vocals is healthy. There are sections when harsh vocals suit the music more and passages where the female vocalists can strut their stuff more accordingly. The Sins Of Thy Beloved utilise using three vocalists well, or are well as possible. Speaking of those horrible lyrics, take a look at these:
things we done
and all the times
we made love
remember the night
when we talked
and you kissed me
so we made love
That's just bad. Plain bad. There are occasions when the audience may deem it simply unnecessary to use three vocalists and they'd probably be right. In terms of innovation, The Sins Of Thy Beloved do quite well. Everything is varied, the percussion, the keyboards and those fantastic violins which play a key part to the bands sound. Thankfully, there are moments of glory, despite the fact that it sounds like all doom and gloom. 'All Alone' and 'Silent Pain' are two very noteworthy tracks. With the bands future seemingly uncertain, this is a decent offering, but will never go down in history as one of the greatest of its genre.
There is a popular story whose content is as follows: once there was an army of napoleon passing a bridge. When they began to get through this bridge, the commander ordered his army to march through it. But, to everyone¡¯s surprise, when they reached the middle of this bridge, it broke down suddenly.
Now, the physical textbook tells us, that is because the frequency of their steps was resonant with the bridge¡¯s own oscillating frequency, so the bridge¡¯s oscillation became stronger and stronger, and finally cause itself to break down.
This story does not mean to tell us how stupid the commander is, but wants to tell us that everything of this world has its own resonant frequency, if it matches with another suited one, then the effect will become the most prominent.
What I have described above seems non-relevant with a comment of an album, now I will explain it with more detail. I think everyone¡¯s heart has it¡¯s own pulsant frequency, and undoubtedly there must be some kind of other frequencies that can be resonant with it. For my own experience, when I listen to this album, I can do nothing but let my heart to be inspired by the beautiful and tearful music, sink in the lake of sorrow.
The music of The Sins of thy beloved is not kinds of music with the black color, which brings a feeling of fear or terror. It is some atmospheric and emotional music, with a color of dark or gray. As what you can see from the lake of sorrow: beneath the placid lake surface and in the cold lake-water, there is something subtle and hard to perceive. They conceal in there, and suddenly burst out in some particularly time. Just like many feelings deep in our heart, melancholy, sorrow, distress, and even desperation.
Generally, to present a gothic and doom feeling, a common way is the usage of some female vocals and violin, like what have done in Paradise Lost¡¯s ¡°Gothic¡± and My Dying Bride¡¯s ¡°Turn loose the swan¡±. The Sins of thy beloved has its own characteristic of these two elements, so as to make its music unmatched.
There is many violin solos in this album, which build an important part of the album, and largely contribute to emotional expression of their music. In most part of this album where need a turn in the musical feeling, it will come out a beautiful violin solos, which lead the music to some darker aspect and some heartbroken portion. But it is not because of Pete Johansen¡¯s skill of violin, actually, the melodies are not so sophisticate, but appropriate. They appear in the most suitable place, act the most suitable role, and always function to provide a striking key points.
If the violin has made the finishing point, the female vocal, Anita Augland, her voice has established the basic mood of the whole album. Anita is one of my favorite female singers, especially her wonderful singing in this album. Also, it is not because of her singing skill, but the way she expresses the song¡¯s subtle and obscure feeling. In this album, Anita¡¯s voice is always celestial and ethereal, for example, in the fifth song, until the dark. In this song, Anita¡¯s voice floats above the other instrument, like something hover on your heart, shade all the light from outside, and make your heart sink and sink, till the bottom of the abyss of sadness.
The keyboard is another outstanding section in the album, together with the female vocal, it makes some excellent part, bringing a dainty tune and dreaming atmosphere. In their musical composing, none of the instrument, especially that have been emphasized in the traditional heavy metal works, the guitar, the bass and the drum, is situated in a dominant place. What they concern most is how to coordinate various parts into a whole. And I think they have successfully combined all of these elements, and created the most beautiful and dolorous music I¡¯ve ever heard.
Compared to the pure technique, the emotion, or the feeling, is more subtle and more difficult to sense and express. And I think music should for the individual, for person who can have resonance with the music and can explore him/herself in the music. Concerning this album, I would say, there is something original in it, some primitive emotion and sensation that can cause my reaction. But, just like what is aforementioned by me, maybe it is just suited for me, suited for my own feelings of some certain moment.
This album and the theli of therion are my most favorite albums, and just like I said in theli¡¯s comment: if the score permit, I will give it 200. That is for its resonance with my heart, and for my own experience of sinking in the lake of sorrow.
With only their first album ‘The Sins of Thy Beloved’ achieved great success, and this is understandable due to the fact that Lake of Sorrow is a really extraordinary album that graced the world of gothic-doom metal with music that surrounds you in a great, dark, and unique atmosphere.
The Sins of Thy Beloved transmits through their music emotions such as sorrow and sadness, and feelings such as pain. Each song is like a world of its own with its own subject and distinct music that makes the songs different from others. Even though the music is soft the guitars are not. I think they fit very well with their little heavy riffing. The drumming goes along with the rhythm of the music, we have some double bass here and there, and some fast-tempo blasts from time to time. The drumming is enough to not overload the music and spoil it. The keyboards and violin are important elements in this album; they enrich greatly the musical content of each song. Also when a song reaches a critical point like where melodies change – it could be because someone is crying and then dies for example- then the keyboards and the violin makes an especial entrance in which they are both played extraordinarily with such an expert musicianship that just amazes you. As in gothic metal bands we have here two types of vocals: male grunting vocals and female vocals. Anita Auglend is the responsible for the female vocals; therefore, she is the owner of that beautiful and angelical voice that made me enjoy with great delight this album from the beginning to the very end.
I want to conclude by saying that this album is a piece of art. It is amazing how the members of TSOTB can join all their music skills to create such wonderful music. I really enjoyed each of the songs in this album. Lake of Sorrow is simply beautiful