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Tedious and Without Purpose - 15%

JackOfAllBlades, December 14th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Moribund Records

Ponderously paced and incredibly ill-conceived, Spirit of Sorrow is an album that tries to do very little and still manages to fail miserably. Its blend of plodding quarter-notes-only drumbeats, faux-anthemic power chords and a constant wash of keyboards is a clear indication that this is intended as atmospheric black metal á la Summoning; unfortunately, Fear of Eternity lacks both the songwriting chops and the clarity of purpose to make that style work.

In fact, it's not quite accurate to call this album 'metal'. Instrumentally, the songs never get any harder than your average hair band, and the appallingly bad vocals don't introduce intensity so much as they inspire nausea. The piano that appears on many tracks doesn't help much, either, considering the melodic and harmonic resemblance to the credits theme from a tragic slice-of-life anime. When one considers the melodramatic lyrics and junior-high-diary song titles on top of all these musical failings, it's hard to imagine filing it in the same section as Suicide Forest or even Lifelover. The real shame here is that the band could probably create some pretty convincing dungeon synth - all they'd need is to stop slapping on cheap drum machines, 80s guitars and choked screeches in an abortive attempt to make metal.

One modicum of credit that I'll definitely give Spirit of Sorrow is that, while it's bad, it's listenably bad. I've heard some albums so sincerely and completely god-awful that turning off my boombox was an act of self-preservation, but this wasn't one. In fact, I could imagine it being inoffensive (albeit entirely unengaging) background noise given the right context - if I had something else to occupy my mind, an album like this might be just the thing to underscore the activity without threatening to capture my attention. As it is, Fear of Eternity has offered little more than a samey, uninspired collection of keyboard licks with even less creative hard-rock instrumentals - perhaps not the worst record I've ever heard, but not one I'll ever care to return to.

Cinematic Black Metal - 75%

DeviousDarren, December 12th, 2006

“Spirit of Sorrow” is the second Fear of Eternity album re-released through Moribund Records. The one-man, black metal group from Italy continues on the path of sorrow-laced ambience presented on “Toward the Castle.” The band’s identity has not changed; however, the production has knocked off the cryptic cobwebs of its predecessor. With a cleaner production, the keyboard passages create lush soundscapes, allowing the listener to further fall into “singers” fantastic, sonic realms.

Andrea Tilenni uses keyboards as the foundation for his music. The keyboards create the rhythm, tone, and pace, with the guitar being use primarily as a backdrop. “Atrocious Pain” is an example of Tilenni's effective use of keyboards to change the mood of each song. This track’s structure displays a common motif found throughout the album. It begins with happy synth and piano, similar to the soundtrack music on late ‘70s and early ‘80s After School Specials and PBS shows. This bright, hopeful tone is only a disguise to lull the listener into a false sense of happiness until Tilenni breaks down the bouncing beat to a nightmarish crawl.

It is easy to note Tilenni's affinity for soundtrack music, especially horror movies. The first track, “Staring at the Dark” begins with funeral, organ notes, which instantly recall the horror film classic “Phantasm.” Fear of Eternity’s bizarre ambiance is often compared to horror film score producers, Goblin. The creepiness contained in each song and the instruments he chooses make this comparison obvious.

Tilenni took a step further in the right direction by cleaning up his sound, but the vocals should have stayed the same. His vocals on “Toward the Castle” were much stronger by using a staggering, vocal echo. “Spirit of Sorrow” features gurgling, Merman-like vocals. Also, he should make the guitar stand out more. With the mournful themes he presented here, using his guitar for some doomier moments might just be the element needed to create the ultimate ode to gloom. Melancholiacs fear not, though, “Spirit of Sorrow” has enough sadness to keep you in despair’s grip for weeks!