"Sorrow Returns" EP
Record Label: Black Rider Records | Genre/Style: Gothic Rock | Release Date: March 11, 2016 | Country: Norway | Virus G Rating: 5/5
Just like Morricone ensures a full cinematographic experience each time he scores a Western, the guitarist, composer and producer Tommy Olson does likewise when writing Goth Rock songs. As author, he always guarantees a balanced blend of high-octane fueled rhythms and absorbing, indelible melodies, conceived in such a way that listeners can easily feel themselves riding on a dusty road, crossing credibly illusive and inspiring sonic landscapes. His is a very personal and recognizable Goth Rock mark, characterized by clean, flawless string designs. Tommy's creations cause an immediate appealing effect due to their wealth of both hard edged and harmonic hooks, in addition meaningfully flavored by a man who doesn’t wear a black gambler hat by chance.
With a music career more than two decades long under his belt, Tommy has stamped his artistic flair on every project - all based in Norway - he has embarked on, most prominent among which are: the worship act The Morendoes, whose debut EP "There Is No Salvation" (1994) is even today highly regarded by any devotee to Gothic Rock atmospheric chord progressions; Theatre Of Tragedy (from 1997-1999), just at the band’s highest peak, coinciding with the release of their critically acclaimed album “Aégis” which, indeed, is one of the best Gothic Rock efforts ever made by a Gothic Metal ensemble, notably with regard to guitars; and last, but not least, the celebrated Elusive, lead agent of the nordic third wave at the turn of the century that interestingly had its predestined genesis in a jam session between Tommy and his former The Morendoes bandmate Jan Kenneth Barkved - unrepeatable crooner and character, who was also member of Tristania and Sirenia, among others - joined later by the reputed guitarist Kristian Gundersen (New Breed, Sirenia) to lay the foundation for a signed Goth Rock which, not only doubled the number of dark rider silhouettes moving to its 80s mirrored central beat within the dacefloor hazes, but also seduced many followers through that special symphonic nostalgia arising from the guitars/vocals interplay. Unfortunately, the Norwegian flagship ran aground on the bad Goth Rock climate prevailing in 2009 and then sank for a series of other misfortunes. However, the good news is that all the aforementioned riches converge now in Tommy’s new adventure, Long Night, whereby the gentle baritones of Østen Bergøy (The Morendoes, Tristania) and the blazing guitar bursts of the local hero Arni Sørlie, seem like a fitting accompaniment in his current artistic research. So, as the title of this 7-track debut EP says, “Sorrow Returns” to stay and, certainly, to leave both war veterans and youth militias feeling eager for more.
The track listing includes dance-til-dawn, motorized Goth Rock numbers such as the different versions of “Sorrow Returns” - “Toxicity Mix” is my strongest horse as guitar-oriented DJ. All them fire on all chords with vintage allure, as if they were virtually written by Steve Stevens for The Sisters of Mercy’s album “Vision Thing”, with drums relentlessly pounding all along and melodic refrains sticking in mind for a long while; for its part, “Tell No Tale”, displays an infectious, nifty marriage of steel and nylon string sounds; Conversely, the warmly-hued epic “Arkham”,is a mid tempo built on paired echo-y keyboard and cicada bass patterns, reminiscent to those from Elusive, meeting iridescent, chiming chord sequences with a distinct The Mission UK sheen to gradually create an eerie ambiance for Østen’s croons drift over full of longing; while the absolute highlight of this record is “Ruins”, a weirdly soothing, crepuscular, peyote rock ballad that sways in elegiac and sparkling strums; soaring, shamanic vocals; percolating 70’s synth dust and smooth, sweeping cadences. It truly ends getting under the skin to pull the heartstrings and bringing out the Jim Morrison in everyone. Weaving in and out, some misty, searing solos conjure The Cult’s “Sonic Temple”-era to complete the thrilling ghost town picture of this timeless song. Then, night descends upon the desert when the slow, wistful “Winter (Lament)” enters, and its plaintive, twangy slide guitar resonates alongside the faint snares and the lifting acoustic rhythms, to set overall an arpeggiated starkness which rightly matches the heartfelt narrative and an overwhelming dark imagery is provided.
Rekindled, and even strengthened, the authentic dusk and roll spirit is back to regain its rightful place in the dark music realm, manifesting itself in the tuneful journeys down memory lane and irresistible riffed grooves which are so of its own.
Review by Billyphobia