Sunday, May 3, 2009

Review: Everlasting Dark - Lygophobia (2007)

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Lygophobia - an abnormal fear of darkness. Lygophobia, the latest release from Czech Gothic doomsters Everlasting Dark, is therefore quite appropriately titled. The sextet, hailing from the ancient Moravian city of Olomouc in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, displays considerable talent in developing involved, somber compositions that will definitely strike a chord with fans of Doom/Death and Gothic metal alike.

Although only 6 tracks deep, Lygophobia adheres to the Doom Metal tradition of expansive tempo shifts and grandiose orchestrations which results in this EP clocking in at just under 45 minutes - longer than many full-lengths in some genres. A major factor in Everlasting Dark's core sound is the violin contributions from Jana Hartlová. While considered a favorite element of many Gothic Doom/Death bands rooted in the sounds pioneered by the likes of The Gathering, Theatre of Tragedy, and My Dying Bride, Hartlová's violin combines with the up-tempo riffs put forth by Zdenýk Kaczor and Petr Sova to lend Everlasting Dark a sound that lies somewhere between those bands and more folksy outfits like Elvenking. "The Quest" best illustrates the similarities, with the violin and Hana Vajènerová's flute complimenting the thick riffs nicely.

Vocally, Everlasting Dark's style is all over the field. Kaczor, who also serves as the bands singer, alternates in style between Blackened rasps, Death Metal growls, whispered spoken-word lamentations, and wordless harmonizations. He's often joined by both Hartlová and Vajènerová, who both deliver some nice, throaty mezzo-soprano performances throughout the disc. "Paths of Gods", one of my favorite tracks on Lygophobia, features the female vocals adopting a folkish, almost medieval, cadence for much of the song while the closing moments of the track find Kaczor joining in for some Viking-inspired choruses. "At the End of Heart" finds both male and female vocals being used more as instruments, with some very nice harmonizations to go along with the furious and razor sharp violin passages.

While the violin and the vocals are in the forefront of Everlasting Dark's sound, the guitars can hardly be considered just filler. During the aforementioned "At the End of Heart", Kaczor fires off a rather chaotic solo while drummer Martin Hartl kicks out some frantic double-bass beats. Another favorite track is the instrumental "The Sleepwalker", which contains heaping amounts of melodic riffing and anthemic leads as well as the best interplay between guitars and violin on the album. As if he didn't already have enough to do, Kaczor also provides the lush keyoard atmopshere that haunts Lygophobia from beginning to end. Tastefully done, his keyboard contributions further enhance the overall sense of melancholy and despair crafted by the dark riffs and sorrowful strings.

Fans of Gothic metal who would gladly trade the saccharine style of bands like Nightwish and Poisonblack for the harsh aggressiveness of My Dying Bride and Anathema will find Lygophobia to be an enjoyable album. The Czechs not only show themselves to be talented musicians, but they also exhibit a strong knack for writing majestic songs that avoid repetition with a steady ebb and flow of emotion. Quite recommended.

Track Listing
2The Quest7:28
3Paths of Gods8:41
4The Sleepwalker7:06
6At the End of Heart7:48
Total Runtime43:27

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