Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation – Album Review

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Artist: Thy Despair

Album Title: The Song Of Desolation

Label: Rockshots Records

Date of Release: 8 May 2020

Credit where it is due, Italian record label Rockshots Records have delivered a couple of really great albums over the past few months, so I have been keeping an eye on their promo offerings with interest. A few weeks ago, I was presented with a band called ‘Thy Despair’ and their debut full-length album, ‘The Song Of Desolation’. With decent artwork and with the press release recommending this release to fans of bands like Dimmu Borgir, Tristania, Wolfheart and Insomnium, I had no choice but to investigate further.

A little background first though, and Thy Despair are a band from Kiev in the Ukraine. The name has been around since the mid-noughties but aside from founding member Nephilim, Thy Despair have gone through a couple of extensive line-up changes. As such, there’s a very different look to the band since its inception in 2006. Today’s line-up sees guitarist and vocalist Nephilim joined by vocalist Elin, guitarist Strike, keyboardist Navka, drummer Alex, and bassist Anton.

In a change from the normal manofmuchmetal style, I feel obligated to begin with the negatives. Unfortunately, there are a few, so bear with me. Firstly, the music sounds like it came out of the mid 90s, but not necessarily in a good way. When I listen to ‘The Song Of Desolation’, I am reminded of all of those Goth-infused quasi-symphonic black metal bands that were sloshing around the metal underground in the mid-late 90s, desperately hoping to hang on to the coat tails of the big boys and benefit from their slipstream; yes there are some tinkling piano notes and grandiose synth elements (‘Fear and Despair’ for example) as well as the ubiquitous gruff vocals but I really don’t hear the Dimmu Borgir references beyond that. I certainly don’t hear the Insomnium or Draconian influences either.

The production isn’t bad but I was actually surprised when I discovered that a human sits behind the drums as I was initially convinced that they were the work of a machine. And the vocals from Elin are so prominent in the mix that they threaten to drown everything else out at times. What’s more, if I’m being completely honest, her higher notes aren’t that pleasant on the ear either. For me, whilst there are some nice melodic moments to be heard, within the likes of ‘The Free One’ and ‘Last Breath’, these are too few and far between. A lack of strong, lasting hooks means that I find myself losing interest as the album develops disappointingly.

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But, aside from all the negatives, there are a few positives. One of these is the lead guitar work that pops up within several of the tracks. There’s a surprising flamboyance about it that I wasn’t necessarily expecting, with a few of the lead solos raising a smile on my face. Take the opening riffs and exuberant lead melodies of opening track ‘The Free One’; it was this that made me download the promo in the first place, especially when the lead solos pierce the song at points throughout. I’m also a fan of the prominent and chunky bass that’s allowed to assert some authority on a relatively frequent basis.

Also, if I’m honest, most of the songs contain something that I quite like. The problem is that, too often, the songs will veer down more boring or stereotypical paths, killing the momentum as far as I’m concerned. But nevertheless, there are hints throughout the album that Thy Despair could elevate themselves to another level with experience and a greater quality control.

And to underline my last point, when the band get it right, they prove that they are capable of writing a really decent tune. It’s just a shame that it arrives when three-quarters of the album is done and dusted. ‘Falling Star’ is an engaging song from its bold theatrical start to finish, featuring the strongest and most consistent melodies heard anywhere on ‘The Song Of Desolation’, as well as a couple of killer lead solos. Elin’s vocals feel somehow more commanding too, perhaps enhanced by the melodic sensibilities that run alongside. The gruff male vocals appear, but so does a deep, clean male voice. I assume they are the work of Nephilim and my mind wonders why on Earth the band didn’t utilise this weapon elsewhere because it adds another very welcome element to the album’s unquestionable stand-out song.

Write more songs like ‘Falling Star’ and the sophomore release from Thy Despair might just get them noticed on a much wider scale. As it is, unless you have a penchant for that 90s Goth/black/symphonic sound, I find it difficult to recommend ‘The Song Of Desolation’ to you beyond maybe a cursory listen.

The Score of Much Metal: 58%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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