On Thorns I Lay - Aegean Sorrow
Alone Records
Melodic Doomdeath
9 songs (47'25")
Release year: 2018
On Thorns I Lay, Alone Records
Reviewed by Alex

When I heard that Greek On Thorns I Lay just released another album a couple of thoughts stirred up. First, there is not another more poetic moniker in all of metal. Yet, great name or not, I have several albums by On Thorns I Lay in my collection and my other contemplation before plunging into Aegean Sorrow was the realization that I have not given any of them a spin in a long while. A refresher was in order, and by the time I was done with 2003 Egocentric it became clear for me why On Thorns I Lay took more than a decade to have a comeback and why I gave up on the band around same time.

I do not possess and have never heard On Thorns I Lay 1995 debut Sounds of Beautiful Experience, but starting with 1997 Orama it can be safely said that there is no more shapeshifting band in metal than these Greeks. Orama was fantastic atmospheric melodic doom based around marine theme with Theater of Tragedy Beauty & the Beast dual vocal style. Crystal Tears shifted more into gothic metal territory, but the use of female vocals and strong violin presence made it quite unique and interesting. I missed Future Narcotic, but by Angeldust things have started to slide. Trying to do Katatonia without strong melodies or conviction was not a recipe for success and I only liked Deep Thoughts track on Angeldust. By Egocentric it was all commercial and pretty pathetic Radiohead like poppish rock, directionless and boring. It was then that On Thorns I Lay had to hang it up for a while.

Largely with the same main characters, Chris Dragamestianos on guitars and Stefanos Kintzoglou on bass and vocals, On Thorns I Lay apparently felt that everything new is well forgotten old, so with Aegean Sorrow they looped all the way back to what could have been pre-Orama days now playing melodic doomdeath on the album. Title track begins with atonal vibrating feedback, creating a sense of dread, until melodic loops grow into full on melodic push. The vocals are pure bottom of the barrel, the keys are mainly in supporting role, until the final piano dissolution, guitars taking full lead in a rather pure and unadulterated doomdeath display. In a way this approach is a blessing and a curse for Aegean Sorrow. Everything on Erevos and In Emerald Eyes is pretty much proper My Dying Bride mournful old school, with low register crushing vocals, mid song acoustic breaks and monumental close (In Emerald Eyes). Yet in what way this is original, I don’t quite understand. Perhaps the urge to revisit what now is 20 year old past was simply too hard to resist. I can go on with multiple My Dying Bride or Anathema references, as in Olethros Part I when heavy horror atmosphere eventually shifts to harmony, still giving off an atonal note here and there. Following Olethros Part II then is half and half Opeth’s Harvest from Blackwater Park and The Moor from Still Life.

In the second half of Aegean Sorrow On Thorns I Lay decided to release the pressure first going with decidedly funeral pace, but entirely harmonized The Final Truth. A Sign of Sadness is just brooding acoustics and whispers, while Skotos closes with a full on atmospherics where piano plays two different lines (or it could be two pianos playing independently).

A very competent and probably nostalgic effort, Aegean Sorrow is about 20 years past its time. However, had it been released in 2000 we probably would dismiss it outright. At least today, it speaks about the days gone by with a regretful sigh.

Killing Songs :
Aegean Sorrow, In Emerald Eyes, The Final Truth
Alex quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by On Thorns I Lay that we have reviewed:
On Thorns I Lay - Orama reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
On Thorns I Lay - Egocentric reviewed by Jack and quoted 65 / 100
On Thorns I Lay - Angeldust reviewed by Jack and quoted 70 / 100
On Thorns I Lay - Future Narcotic reviewed by Marc and quoted 78 / 100
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