Review Summary: I hope and/or sense this band’s mix of melodic death metal and symphonic elements has yielded a great album. But this isn’t it.
When a band does something unique the first time, it can be amazing. If they’re able to give it a second shot, the product probably won’t be quite
as good. After the band has released four albums and previously broken up for two years, well…there’s no real predicting what can happen.
Melodic death metal outfit Eternal Tears of Sorrow have been together for thirteen years, released six albums, and broken up before reuniting two years later. Needless to say, they’ve released a lot of material, and if Children of the Dark Waters
is a good indication, stagnation has set in. There are enough good ideas to make a great album here, but the execution – or rather, the band themselves – leave as much to be desired as this review’s introduction.
The first thing any listener should know is that this album is very cheesy. Extremely
cheesy. After the ambient choir intro in “Angelheart, Ravenheart” transitions to a full band assault behind vocalist Altti Veteläinen, various things might get go through your mind. Veteläinen uses gravelly half-spoken growls here, and one possible (i.e. most illustrative) picture is that of a pirate who’s joined the wrong metal [e.g. power] band. Aside from the standard melodic death metal played behind him, Eternal Tears of Sorrow also employ a keyboardist - Janne Tolsa. Tolsa serves double duty, attempting to both create atmosphere and give the music more depth. …Dark Waters
’ “atmosphere” is more cheesy than engaging, and Tolsa’s real job is to cover up average yet passable riffs, standard drumming, good but buried bass, and Veteläinen’s unique-but-not-really-in-a-good-way Blackbeard vocals. Choirs, semi-laughable wails, and even guest female vocals help out, contributing to mentioned cheesiness as well as a power metal feel on the album.
Only one of the songs doesn’t start with some sort of synth/keys intro and about half the time said synth plays unaccompanied by the rest of the band. The rest of the band will come in along with it or shortly thereafter, providing the down-tuned riffs and passable instrumentation mentioned before. Verses will center around Veteläinen, and the rest of the song will continue the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/etc. formula (guitar solos are optional). “Sea of Whispers” follows this typical structure but opts for the ballad route, and despite being equally (if not more) laughable than everything else, it provides a break in the middle of the album. Additionally, “…Whispers” is almost devoid of the main vocalist - relative newcomer Jarmo Kylmänen provides strong operatic vocals – and it features a great guitar solo.
In conclusion, Children of the Dark Waters
is not a bad album. It could be great, but Eternal Tears of Sorrow sound at least a little tired, and it’s hard not to chuckle when listening to the album initially. The sound
is there, but strong execution or staying power isn’t. For both our sakes, I hope digging into their back catalogue will be more rewarding.
Try before you buy:
Tears of Autumn Rain
Sea of Whispers
Diary of Demonic Dreams