My Dark Lake - Tenebris Icon (EP) (2013)


Scour the internet for minutes, hours, even days. Without the aid of a translator (Sorry Bing and Google, we need a real translator here), there is virtually no information to be found on the mysterious My Dark Lake, a band from Ukraine that seems to specialize in avant ambient music, and symphonic inspired doom metal. That is as far as the trail goes. The web label hosted their latest work, an EP titled "Tenebris Icon," offers little more.But where their is curiosity, there must also be discovery. So armed with next to nothing, you hit play on what would be an experience, if nothing else, into the current state of metal in Ukraine. But what you have, hidden behind a purple tinged album cover and a bizarre mix of fonts is something that will, at minimum, make you tilt your head slightly sideways, squint your eyes and let out an intrigued "Huh." The three tracks that make up "Tenebris Icon" might not change the world today, but they might provide the framework for something far bigger in the very near future.

The album's title track, positioned right at the top, is an exercise in ambient drone, with very few real ties to the metal community. It accomplishes it's goal, though, through the use of haunting tones and sounds, providing what would be a chilling soundtrack to a haunted house or graveyard scene. It brings with it a gust of cold air, raising the goosebumps on your arm. But it is the second track, "Fantasia No. 1 In E Minor" that opens a door to what could be. The sweeping orchestral melody is beautifully orchestrated. When joined by a thick layer of drum and distortion, it is breathtaking. For as short as the track is, falling just short of three minutes, it is larger than life. It is one key element away from being a conversation piece. But the lack of that puzzle piece does not take away from what you have in front of you, nor does it distract from the final track, the funeral doom version of "Cold Slumber," a track that appeared on a previous album of the same name. With the tempo down to a crawl, and the ambient energy turned up to high, the execution here is marvelous. It strikes a familiar chord, the one that connects intensity and beauty at the hand. The production work, clear as can be, only adds to that union, allowing each piece to breathe while still finding symbiosis.

There will be those of you who would scoff at the notion that this album is truly metal. My own cohorts might be included in that. But while it might not be a full on metal album, doom or otherwise, there are glimpses of genius that give hope for the future. With the addition of a strong vocal presence to these three tracks, be it a growling male or soaring female, you would have a trio of songs that border on greatness. Simplistic as they seem, their symphonic roots take them well beyond the structure of most doom metal. And their layering and depth push them beyond the limits of ambient drone metal. So why not push it further? Why not take that giant leap into something outside their comfort zone, and put all of those pieces together? The result could be one of the most cold, spine shaking mergers of styles we've heard in quite some time. Get word out to Ukraine; My Dark Lake needs to take the leap, make a splash, and start the defining of a new wave of symphonic doom. 

8/10

Website - http://vk.com/mydarklake
Bandcamp - http://gv-sound.bandcamp.com/album/tenebris-icon
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/GVSound