Lake of Tears - The Neonai
Black Mark
Psychedelic Goth Music
11 songs (41'34")
Release year: 2002
Lake of Tears, Black Mark
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Soon after 1999 album Forever Autumn I read a tidbit in the news that Lake of Tears have disbanded. I remember the news saddening me tremendously. Starting with 1993 this Swedish band released one album every two years with each installment occupying an important place in my collection. Their progression from melodic doom death a la early Tiamat to a mellow atmospheric Pink Floydish rock was nothing short of amazing. Every step of the way Daniel Brennare, guitarist/vocalist/bandleader, had been maturing as a songwriter. There are some bands you never want to go away, and, for me, Lake of Tears is one of them.

I did not know whether The Neonai is a new studio release or The Best Of, but I diligently tracked it down. Thanks to The End Records having an exclusive deal with Black Mark Records the disc is available in the US. And it is a new studio album! And, most importantly, it was worth the wait!

Stylistically, this album would have fit extremely well between Crimson Cosmos and Forever Autumn. The Neonai revisits the most commercial tunes of the critically lauded Crimson Cosmos, Boogie Bubble and Devil’s Diner being good examples. Half of the tracks on The Neonai fall under the category of modern and groovy psychedelic goth music. While the song structures are simplified compared to Crimson Cosmos, they sound very catchy and draw you in almost from the first listen. Whatever heavy sound Lake of Tears manages to achieve is due to a splendid guitar work of Brennare. I wouldn’t call it riffs or complete chord progressions. They are rather background string touches making the frame which holds the whole composition together. Once in a while Brennare comes out with a lead (Nathalie and the Fireflies) or a solo (Leave a Room) that elevate the whole song. Keyboards are used extensively and aid in carrying the melody, but guitar never relinquishes control. Some of these groovy songs are better than others (first half of the album is stronger) and after a week of listening I continue to hum choruses of Return of Ravens, The Shadowshires and Can Die No More. On a couple of tracks (Solitude and Sorcerers) Brennare shows us glimpses of what made Forever Autumn an unforgettable album. Much more serene and dreamy, they take us on a mystic journey in the land of wizards and mushroom houses appropriately depicted on the cover art. Sorcerers utilizes female vocals. Jennie Tebler’s sweet and angelic voice is a nice touch to a song which also features a good string plucking solo. On the rest of the album Brennare uses a vocal style as if he is telling us his stories about enchanted lands around a campfire. There is no old raspiness to be heard. I understand how this whole style of music requires precision drumming to maintain the groove. However, while progressive and lively on Natalie and the Fireflies the drums are lifeless and mechanical on some other tracks. Down the Nile is probably the heaviest song on the album and serves the same purpose as Pagan Wish did on Forever Autumn – to spice things up. I simply question its position on the album towards the very end.

While listening to The Neonai I thought to myself: “This is the nice retrospective of the last 5 years of the band existence”. And, as if answering my thought, the last track on the album is an unnamed medley of the small song pieces from all four previous albums held together by the heavy ominous organ!

I know I am going to catch some flack for saying this – Lake of Tears is ABBA of heavy metal. They suck you in with the crafty, catchy songs you almost feel like … dancing to.

Killing Songs :
Return of Ravens, The Shadowshires, Sorcerers, Natalie and the Fireflies
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Lake of Tears that we have reviewed:
Lake of Tears - By the Black Sea reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Lake of Tears - Illwill reviewed by Alex and quoted 69 / 100
Lake of Tears - Forever Autumn reviewed by Khelek and quoted 95 / 100
Lake of Tears - A Crimson Cosmos reviewed by Khelek and quoted 85 / 100
Lake of Tears - Moons and Mushrooms reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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