Sorrowful Land figure among the growing Ukrainian doom community, impressing plenty of knowledgeable observers with last year’s debut album release Of Ruins… This three-track EP builds on those firm foundations and once again Sorrowful Land have spread their moving cloak of melancholy to sublime effect.
What is not immediately apparent is that Sorrowful Land, like the much-heralded Ukraine demon Drudkh, is a solo project – this one nurtured by the highly capable hands of Max Molodtsov, who also performs with Edenian.
Initially Max was partnered by Swedish artist Peter Laustsen (When Nothing Remains, Nox Aurea) with Peter taking care of clean vocals on their demo release in 2014. Peter left at the start of 2016 and so did not contribute to the debut album. While live performances always present a challenge, in the studio the one-man project becomes less of a hurdle.
‘As I Behold Them Once Again’ is the first and longest of the tumultuous triumvirate that make up this EP at just over 10 minutes. The guitars are given license to paint pictures as vividly as a budding artist while the timing and execution of the sullen grooves helps build and maintain momentum throughout.
Vocally the style is akin to Aaron Stainthorpe from My Dying Bride and Sorrowful Land walk the same beleaguered and barren lands as the UK’s esteemed doom giants. While the first half of ‘As I Behold Them Once Again’ is quite determined in its tempo this is interrupted by an ambient mid-song pause before the wheels again start to turn and the heartfelt strips of melody pour forth once more.
The middle title track is laced with a gently gyrating groove which acts as a transcendental contrast to Max’s deathly growls. The psychological noose is pulled ever tighter as Sorrowful Land ratchet up the tension with a slowly building orchestral flourish.
‘The Night is Darkening Around Me’ is the darkest of the three tracks, oozing melancholy through every sombre note and guttural emission. It’s a gut-wrenching doom monologue that brings this excellent release to a gratifying end, albeit one with a heavy heart.