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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 รก 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.