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My Darkest Time - The Last (2016) - Review

Band: My Darkest Time
Album title: The Last
Release date: 31 August 2016
Label: Inverse Records

01. Last (intro)
02. The Gates
03. Ephrath (ft. Torbjörn Weinesjö)
04. Unceasing
05. Blurred Truths
06. You
07. Written Names (instrumental)
08. Pearl
09. O Beloved (ft. Sime Stefkovski)

This is for me a somehow special review, as it's my first time that I write a review about a Macedonian band and on top of that this is a religious-Christian themed album. So, getting out of my comfort zone pretty much with this, but always is the first time for something new and to tell you the truth My Darkest Time quite deserve to be noticed for what they do. The Last is already the fourth album for this duo, consisting of multi-instrumentalist, founder and main composer Žarko Atanasov and female vocalist Marina Atanasova, both are active also in the gothic doom band Wipe Away. My Darkest Time debuted in 2008 with album titled End Of My Darkest Time and to tell you the truth everything with this band is much more the same as it was in the beginning, even though I find this new offering a bit more bright.

The Last as well as the rest of the discography of this band has its real depth in its communicativeness, but since I'm not a religious person it doesn't speak to me on a personal level, so I rather concetrate on music, but if you want to know more about all the background here you should check the notes at this location. The new album is a bit more organic than anything My Darkest Time did before, it's much more based on guitar play and a bit less on different classical instruments, even though you'll find plenty of it here, like nice melancholic piano touches and several orchestral symphonic elements. Like on every album before My Darkest Time also this time gathered some guest musicians; Torbjörn Weinesjö (Veni Domine) added some amazing solo guitars on "Ephrath" and Sime Stefkovski is greatly handling piano on the mournful ballad "O Beloved".

The music of My Darkest Time is more or less a typical atmospheric doom/gothic metal with strong almost sacral feel to it. Musically it reminds me a bit to the early days of Solitude Aeturnus mixed with now forgotten Dreams Of Sanity and touch of Elis, WeltenBrand, My Dying Bride, early Lacrimosa and so on, but this is much slower paced and with doom designation at first place. The instrumental side is quite strong, slow and with constantly haunting melodies, there are many solemn ambinances, with some really intriguing guitar leads. Vocals are another story, not really to be praised, at least the mix didn't went that well here. Also the production could be much better, at least when it comes to vocals. To put it straight, Marina's voice is too bland, there's not enough power, especially when she sings in higher tones it disturbs the overall vibe, for example in "The Gates", which is otherwise quite a remarkable song. There's a kind of folkish oriental influence constantly present, most noticeable in songs like "Ephrath" or "You". One of the albums highlights is the stand out instrumental "Written Names", where Žarko shows what he's really capable of if he crosses the genre borders and adds a pitch of bluesy guitar play and psychedelic rock in here.

The soundscape is throughout very sorrowful creating a totally melancholic ambiance, but for example also the fans of typical goth/post-punk can find something for themselves in mystical "Pearl" which strangely and oddly enough in some segments reminds me a bit to Siouxsie And The Banshees. Even if there are great moments on this album, the ones that really suck you into this gloomy, yet full of hope world, The Last still feels like an incomplete album in my opinion, I think that with some more attention to details and with more attention to overall flow, it could be a stunning one, but unfortunately it's not even their best work to date and todays production inside this genre offers much more elaborate things. Albums like this should evoke in listeners senses some kind of a spiritual transcedental feeling, where fantasy, sorrow and deep thoughts converge into kind of leisure, thus wishing to embrace more and more of this darkness, and this is what is missing here at least in major part of it. Still, I recommend it to every one who's into deeply melancholic symphonic female fronted gothic doom to check it out, and if you can relate with all this religious thing than even better.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 6,5/10