Lake of Tears has been a main representative of ‘dark rock’ since the 90’s with style experimentation ranging from their doomy “Greater Art” days in ’94 to the mellow/melancholic “Forever Autumn” in’99 and more modern hard rock releases there-onward. Still, despite this constant change in sound, the band gathered has a large following since whatever style they adopt, they always keep their composing intact.
4 years after their 2007 album “Moons and Mushrooms”, Lake of Tears drop a surprise unto the metal world by releasing their most aggressive and old school album to date, “Illwill”, a release that can be best described as a mix between thrash metal’s energy and dark rock’s ambiance with the occasional placid atmospheric song like “House of the Setting Sun”, which cools down the album’s intensity.
Lake of Tears fans are in for a big shock as the bombastic drums on “Floating in Darkness” and “U.N.S.A.N.E” are played with a velocity that normally go hand in hand with… well, thrash metal. One would probably assume that these Swedish musicians have had a rough four years, which is reflecting in their music, similar to Metallica’s rocky endeavor with “St. Anger”. However, I think that this energetic display will strike as refreshing to longtime fans who haven’t heard such intensity in a long time. The metal world has already embraced this ballsy move by a band that has proudly kept its music fresh throughout 16 years. “Illwill” is a milestone in LoT’s career, a reminder to all that ‘old bands’ still have it and have not crossed over completely to the psychedelic/atmospheric genre.
As for the variety of influences, “Midnight Madness” recalls Immortal‘s black metal while others like “The Hating” and “Parasites” take us back to Bay Area thrash metal and punk. The most “LoT classic” on the album is “Behind the Green Door”, which undoubtedly resembles the musical direction of their recent catalog. All in all, this might just be the surprise of the year, along with Believer’s recent release “Transhuman“.
A common discussion topic is also Illwill’s lyrics which aren’t conceptual at all compared to Lake of Tears’ previous material. In fact the album’s lyrics are more revenge meets punishment and madness with topics such as darkness, hate and death.
Here’s a interesting fact: when Lake of Tears played live in Lebanon back in 2007, they said that they moved on from their older doom style because they simply outgrew it. That might just be the case here: they went through so many autumns that a dark and repressed energy had to be released. They came full circle and after almost 20 years, LoT are earning their reputation as lords of dark rock with an album that can be summarized by “love it or hate it”.