TONY-TEARSHaving not long ago traversed the bulk of Italian act Tony Tears past works in the form of compendium box set ‘Music From The Astral Worlds’ when this brand new album arrived I was naturally keen to find out what the band had been up to and how things were progressing. I didn’t expect a huge amount of actual progression as guitarist / keyboardist Tears alongside vocalist David Krieg and drummer / bassist Regen Graves work is very much one that is cloaked in mystery and times that hark back to the obscure era of Italian doom led by the likes of Paul Chain and early Death SS that Tears himself grew up around and indeed collaborated with himself. As was proven with the earlier material it is not just doom as such in the more classic sense that the band play but also quite lengthy crypt-like horror sounding, instrumental work that has an arcane and horror soundtrack vibe at its heart.

One thing that I did note is that this is slightly more accessible than last album ‘Vortice’ coming in at the three quarter of an hour mark and with that I breathed a sigh of relief as I did find the group have overstretched themselves in the past and put a bit too much material on their albums for comfort and hoped that here they had gone for quality over quantity. Its organ work and screaming that starts things off on ‘Intro (Sighs Of Times Fear’) sounding like we are in a strange creepy dungeonic torture chamber. It’s very much the sound of mystery and listening carefully you can hear a police siren warbling away in the background (first couple of listens indeed made me think they were actually going down the street). ‘Mark Of Evil’ sees things romp off with eccentric and austere vocals and rattling drums along with a tolling bell bringing more than a sense of doom to the table. It’s horror music ala Candlemass and King Diamond for those wanting a well-known reference point but then again it is neither but something quite unique. There is very much an operatic flair occasionally bursting out of things and Krieg seems completely in his element here, perhaps more so than on the previous album, which was the first he and Graves appeared on. I guess the two of them have grown more comfortable working with Tears and the results are beginning to show. Apart from these granite etched slabs of eldritch doom the band again pepper things with strange instrumental passages giving this a feel of straddling two worlds. The likes of ‘Demoniac Puppets’ which sounds like it should be a Goblin cut from an Argento film has deep bass, meandering guitar work and creepy keyboards and is just such a case in point. Having said that it doesn’t really remind me of any particular artists who work in that particular field and is a bit more unique. By comparison flamboyance in guitar and vocal department spills out on ‘Blind Love For A Medium’ at times things sound off key but I think that is something they do on purpose and it just adds to the underlying and unsettling flavour of things.

‘Deep Misanthropy’ really hits the horror mark for me and the keyboards remind a bit of Japanese band Sigh. This is just a really short interlude though before the next epic doom sounding number ‘Queen Of Darkness’ ceremonially wraps it’s vampiric cloak of darkness around us and brings slow creeping sinister death stalking around a castle of the very damned. Death may have come creeping but with a sudden flurry of guitars the track takes off in style and really sinks its teeth in.  ‘Covenant Of The Lords Of The End’ would make a great film title and is another eerie soundtrack piece at times with the guitar work reminding me a bit of Simon Boswell and some of the parts of his score from Richard Stanley’s Hardware. Also here we get a cover of Armageddon originally done by Paul Chain, which I am sure many of his fans will appreciate.

As for fans of Tony Tears I would imagine there are not a huge amount of them in the UK due to obscurity and the limited reach of the releases. Having said that I could see on publishing the original box set review that he is certainly appreciated at home by the amount of visitors reading the review. I’m finding myself drawn into his world all the more although I think the projects best work may yet still be to come. With this they are certainly heading on the right track.

(7/10 Pete Woods)