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Trails of the past - 90%

TheodorKrieg, June 17th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Independent

About fifteen years ago while searching the metal section of the now defunct CD store CDément here in Montréal I got my hand on this fine little EP by black metal locals Trails of Anguish. Since I have owned this record for so long now I was surprised that this EP was never reviewed before. Anyways, after all these years and learning much about black metal and metal in general, and having to listen to it for the first time in a couple of years in order to write this, I can say that this recording stands the test of time and is a very nice piece of black metal art.

To begin, the cover art is nice, I remember that's what got my attention, a nice classic winter themed painting that goes very well with the music. I don't remember if I listened to the CD at the store before buying it or not. Clearly if I did I got a positive vibe from it since I bought it. Nevertheless, if that was the case, that was clearly the only possible way to get a positive vibe from this record. Why? Because there is absolutely nothing positive about this record. The music, the lyrics, everything has a negative vibe. Sometimes bands have names that don't fit their music, well this here does not apply. The band is called Trails of Anguish and this is exactly what you get: a ballad on a trail of anguish that leads right to the land of depression and suicide.

From the opening second of "The Scythe of Engrieved Melancholia" you know you're in a for an intense ride. The music starts in a violent full on assault at break neck speed. At about 20 seconds in the song the vocals starts, an absolutely tortured vocalist starts "vomiting his soul", to paraphrase him. He sounds something like an hybrid of classic black metal vocals and the higher pitch vocals more common in DSBM. All songs with the exception of the instrumental that closes the EP have these violently tormented vocals that just creates an atmosphere of despair, anguish and schizophrenic panic. This is certainly accentuated by the layering of different vocal tracks in combination or in opposition, just listen to " ...And Desolated Trails of Anguish" to understand what I mean by: "schizophrenic panic".

The vocals fit perfectly with the frantic nature of the music as the band tend to go full speed ahead, have slow downs and just go back to the frantic guitars and drums. The riffing is very nice, you get a few of them that just sticks to your brain. The drumming is very nervous, almost chaotic, sometimes you even wonder if it makes sense at all, but then again it works perfectly with the atmosphere and the nature of the music. Even though this is by no means an over produced record, the result is very good by underground black metal standards. The guitars are very well recorded and take the forefront of the mix, a few acoustics parts bring a nice touch as well. It's not perfect, if you live for bass guitar you'll be disappointed because it is almost nowhere to be found, but it's still very good. Considering this was the first release for the band the overall sound of this EP is quite impressive.

The result of this EP is a combination of 5 songs that work very well together. If you can find it definitely buy it. If you already have it good for you because I saw it priced at 70$ on an auction site a few years ago. This EP is a little gem, the band live was also good, I think it's a shame that they didn't keep going.