Title: Sheen and Misery
Label: Ashen Dominion
Release date: 02 September, 2019
Format reviewed: Digital album
This week has been hectic to say the least. After all, we do all have our personal lives that we most often prioritize over other things, and so during my busy week I decided to play a musical roulette. The bands were in the hat and blindly I picked just something. The only thing I made sure was nobody had reviewed the new album from Ukrainian based EZKATON “Sheen and Misery”, which released on the 2th of September.
A few weeks back I reviewed a USE/Ukrainian duo Ancient Hostility. It was my first taste of metal from Ukraine and I wasn´t all that disappointed. Therefore, this time I had something to compare. The band formed just last year and have seemed to be busy since then, releasing a debut album the same year plus two EPs, and now the second full length album has seen the light of day.
Labeled as atmospheric/depressive black metal, I had a hunch that it would be similar to the already mentioned Ancient Hostility and as soon as the opening track was finished, I somewhat believed I was right. “Altars of the Flame” is filled with clean guitars playing melancholic chords, topped with a sampled speech. The harmonic sound works as if it is being played from afar; it sets this band aside from those dissonant bands that have been popping up every now and then here in the review land recently.
Although the melody continues throughout the second and third track, it is completely missing from the vocals. Misery and despair is obvious but something is missing in order to keep my attention for such long tracks. What “Last Breath” has over “Fall from the Darkness Above” however, is that the third track contains more of a heavy side with a synth melody on top.
Although the melody is missing from the vocals, I can´t deny the fact that the shrieking sound often fits the wrist-cuttingly saddened musical style. Even if I wish they would have implemented faster segments, perhaps some heavier ones, it is only because I am personally looking for some diversity. The same repeated formula becomes old after six tracks, but wait! There are six more to go.
“Tortured by Solitude” was a surprise. A Coldworld cover which had me thinking this was my chance to see if EZKATON was capable of diversity. And comparing it to the original song made it obvious what sort of a sound they are trying to produce with this album. Often enough it sounded like a completely different song due to their own way of playing the keys.
By the ninth track, “Weave Your World”, all has already been said. Melodic chords, slow pace with some faster drumming at times, the ever present scream-your-lungs-out-and-end-each-line-with-a-shriek-vocals and choir keyboards, all blended up in a rusty blender with fresh blood of teenagers giving up. My prayers for diversity however were finally answered in “Bleeding Eyes”, near the end a strange guitar appears out of nowhere so diverse from the rest of the song that it sounds out of place all together. Careful what you wish for huh.
All in all I think I would personally prefer Ancient Hostility. Although EZKATON has released a lot of things since they formed just last year and appear to be quite active, I don’t believe there is any harm in taking some more time to carefully think though what you want to put out there. 5.5/10 Julia