How about some folk music?
Well, doomy folk noir, to be precise…all the way from Israel.
Courtesy of Cruel Wonders, a duo made up of vocalist/guitarist Tamar Singer and Vlad Shusterman, providing the ambience and fuzz, ‘Gentle Doom’ is their aptly named debut album. Its combination of already-existing sonnets and poetry, with lilting acoustic guitar and female vocals, proves an interesting and effective accompaniment to sombre (and sometimes heavy) darkwave menace.
As seen with Prag 83’s 2016 album ‘Metamorphoses’, gloomy neo folk is a viable proposition, and Cruel Wonders weave their spell admirably. This release will hopefully see the duo gain further exposure in, and away from, their home country, after supporting slots with the likes of Spiritual Front and Kadaver.
Patience is the key, however, with this album. A claustrophobic first listen feels quite stifling, but a few more spins, and ‘Gentle Doom’ becomes more alive with texture, and therefore more inviting.
It’s certainly not every record that can boast lyrics by Poe (‘The Fever Called Living’), Shakespeare (‘Gentle Doom’) and Lord Byron (‘Hug The Chain’), but Cruel Wonders borrowing of texts is made somewhat unique and justifiable with Tamar’s percussive strum and emotive vocal delivery. Not to mention Shusterman’s grungy doom chords.
The ethereal backing of ‘My Monastery’ and the subtle drum patterns of ‘Walls Of Home’ add further layers to the sometimes haunting melodies, and the sparse moments of electronica are well utilised within the twosome’s dark folk fever dreams.
Although it would be nice to hear Tamar’s vocals truly soar and break out of the mix a bit more, ‘Gentle Doom’ proves a charismatic and intriguing listening experience, that open-minded music fans will be sure to appreciate.
(7.5/10 Stuart Carroll)