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Desire for Sorrow - Visions - 89%

Edmund Sackbauer, May 19th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, MetalGate

Desire for Sorrow are a melodic/symphonic black metal outfit hailing from the Czech Republic. Having been formed in 2009 it took until 2014 to release their debut full length, titled “A Dawn of Abysmal Ruination”. I am not familiar with this one so I am not able to draw any comparisons, but based on their most recent album “Visions” this is a band exactly knowing what they want to achieve. Going for this more pompous route of black metal can sometimes become a bit difficult, but Desire for Sorrow made sure that the end result is a well-balanced piece of epic yet also heavy music.

Bright synths lift the music and carry the weight of the lyrics, while the clean and crisp production keeps things sharp. Blast beats keep battering against your skull and atmospheric soundscapes of layered synths are setting the tone. Symphonic elements are responsible for the epic feel and the overall atmosphere. There are moments where the violin and piano melodies define the song, while in other sections the digital string orchestra stays in the background and makes sure to provide a great backbone to the guitar chords and the tremolo runs.

Most of the tracks come along with a very melodic approach, with soaring lead flourishes swirling through each song. In places there is a sinister edge to the soundscape, but also sometimes hints at more “friendly” music cannot be denied. “Visions” surely is not black metal at its purest and most evil, there are certainly influences from various genres, in particular melodic death metal. The combination of the fantastic guitars and the keyboard provides some ultimately uplifting harmonies, which are constantly pitched against the traditional tremolo runs and blast attacks.

The songwriting is spot on and the band made sure that the album as a whole makes sense. This is one of the examples where a record feels like one connected piece of music and not just single songs randomly packed together. There are a lot of ups and downs, slower and more ambient passages and some melancholic moments, taking the listener on an emotional ride. The vocal work is also impressive, rounding off a convincing work of music.

The production is huge and pompous, which is exactly what this album asks for. The symphonic details have been embedded into the instrumentation in a way that they are not buried in the mix but also not too dominant. This is still a metal record first and foremost. It will be interesting to see where the band will go next.