Since covering the extensive three and a half hour boxed set ‘Music From The Astral Worlds (2000-2014)’ I seem to have adopted Tony Tears for review duties as well as picking up Abysmal Grief, a project that he and fellow band member Regen Graves both play in too. I have found the Grief stricken ones a bit easier to get a grasp on due to their horror imagery and corresponding sound which although rooted in the side of doom that cult Italian artists such as they are well-versed in, is not too confusing and travels well. Tony Tears has been going since 1988 and his project is anything but as linear to focus on and is very much bathed in a wreath of obscurity that can only really be found amidst the Italian scene. Centred around a collective of other artists such as Paul Chain, Violet Temple, Black Hole, Zess and the more metallic Death SS this sound from the late 80’s is one that very much of its own province and I have to admit may leave those from other countries scratching their heads a bit in bewilderment. Perhaps this makes it all the more interesting though and apart from some constant definitions within the sound you never know quite what you are going to get when you press play. This was even more the case with the cover here showing the trio sporting rather unholy corpse-paint on the front, those of a nervous condition can however see the players without it on the back of the CD case.

There is a bit of a difference here from what I have heard in the past and although David Krieg who has been in the line-up since 2014 is on hand providing vocals surprisingly in English there is also another singer this time in the form of Sandra Silver who has worked with both Paul Chain in the past and popped up on the last Abysmal Grief providing Italian invocations. She certainly brings other dimensions to the dynamic of the band. What sounds like a Theremin is the first thing we hear though giving us a strange ‘Psychic Exorcism’ with spoken words and samples backing it and making the overall sonic palette somewhat surreal. ‘In Lilith’s Days’ starts slowly and ponderous bass tones thickly wafting from the speakers along with warlock Krieg’s austere sounding tones which have a rich and versatile range about them going from baritone to clean sweeps and strange demonic sounding annotations. Guitars meander and fill the spaces, there’s something quite trippy about them when they take off on a journey and you find yourself joining them. The leads do occasionally remind of Hawkwind at their most confounding but that gives me slightly more comprehension rather than feeling completely like a stranger in a strange land. Although this does not strike as dangerous in atmosphere there is certainly a feel that you have perhaps wandered in on a black mass here. This is certainly the vibe I get when Silver takes over with witchy chants on ‘The Beast Inside The Beast.’ She gets centre stage apart from some ultra-thick bass plucking and warbling guitars and as she casts a spell keyboards pulse and you have to duck thinking if she hits, you may well turn into a frog.

The words “it’s all gone weird in here” seem to be my constant companion on this album and it’s almost a relief when a doomy guitar riff and a bit of a falsetto croon take into ‘Fury Of Baphomet’ and things stabilize a little. The classic religiosity of the vocal croons and bounce of the track will have doom heads and flares a shuffling but be warned that Theremin sound and pagan feminism are lurking just around the corner to ensnare on the next track. ‘Archangel Warrior’ sees the two vocalists combining forces and is a sombre sounding ballad with a few leaps of ballast stopping the listener from complete entrancement. It’s quite beautiful in execution and lyrically strikes as a battle between good and evil although I’m not quite sure who wins as it ups the tempo and takes off toward conclusion. The theatricality of the album and moods and atmospheres that go with it get quite dark in places ‘The Thin Shroud Of Moloch’ has the sort of vibe reminiscent of early Christian Death along with some higher vocal parts that have a bit of King Diamond to them. It’s all very odd as is a burst of what can only be described as ‘pub rock’ that coats penultimate number ‘Demon Always Stands At The Darkness Of Fear.’

After what can only be described as a ‘WTF’ opening spin of the album I have found myself becoming all the more enthralled by it on repeated plays and possibly enjoyed more that I have from previous Tony Tears albums. I still can’t say that it’s an album that can be explained easily but lovers of arcane, strange and obscure doom could do well to check this out.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)