Album Review – Deep Mountains / Lake Of Solace (2014)

An atmospheric music experiment full of melancholy and Chinese elements.

Rating5

coverLooking for a complete different experience in the world of heavy music? If so, I suggest you “travel” further east and listen to the debut-album from Chinese Atmospheric Black Metal band Deep Mountains, or 深山 in their own language, the lugubrious and intense Lake Of Solace (or 忘忧湖) . I must warn you the music from this band formed in 2009 in the city of Tai’an, in the Shandong Province, is not easy to absorb: there are no fast songs, no shredding, almost no solos, and in many moments it doesn’t even sound Black Metal. But again, as I said it’s a totally distinct music adventure from the traditional bands we know, and if you take that “risk” you might be very pleased in the end.

What I’m going to say may not make a lot of sense, mainly because the comparison I’m going to make is not exactly a comparison, but before listening to Lake Of Solace I felt almost the same as when one of my Chinese friends told me to watch two great Chinese movies, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. I was really skeptic about those movies, in other words, how could they be better than many Hollywood blockbusters as he said? Give me a break, a good Chinese movie? Well, they’re definitely not the best movies in the world, but really well-done and above the average, and after watching them I realized how stupid my prejudgement was. And the same is valid for this album.

Throughout the whole album, it’s easy to notice the band’s use (and abuse) of Nature and Chinese Culture as their main themes, which already starts with 引子 Intro. I love those intros that connect with the history and culture of the band’s homeland, and in this case all the Chinese elements, especially the soothing sound of the water from the “lake of solace”, work like a spiritual prep for what’s next, the very atmospheric song 毀滅 Sin, with its deep vocals giving us a feeling of agony while the beautiful acoustic parts provide us some peace of mind.

九黎之舞 Wind And Stellar, with its nice guitars in the beginning, is a more acoustic track that turns into more traditional Atmospheric Black Metal with devilish vocals, while 脫 Detachment, which starts with a very engaging narration (“To deliberate believe in lies…”) talking about how humans should be to be accepted by society (as they say it’s a “Marketing Holocaust”), has a pleasant instrumental and, although it’s a very melancholic and depressive song, will hold your attention from start to finish. It’s the best song of the album, and would also be the perfect choice for a very in-depth music video.

deep_mountainsThen we have a two part song with some highs and lows:  忘憂湖 壹 Lake Of Solace Pt.1 is an instrumental track totally focused on the sound of an acoustic guitar and some nature elements, and I’m not sure if this can even be considered Black Metal at all; and 忘憂湖 贰 Lake Of Solace Pt. 2, which begins in a similar way as the first part but with a more metallic sonority and some “vocals of despair” again, is a very sad song, complemented by an interesting guitar solo and clean vocals.

Lake Of Solace ends with the atmospheric ballad 渿河謠 Ballad Of Nai River, a beautiful composition that sounds a lot like traditional Chinese music, full of nature elements and smooth female vocals, and the peaceful instrumental outro 李鳳華 Li Fenghua, the shortest track of the album. And that’s it! Do not expect any epic songs or other Heavy Metal clichés, as the objective in Lake Of Solace is to be more atmospheric than Black Metal, which ends up working pretty well.

The instrumental is quite fundamental and the vocals are always more desperate than tuneful, but that’s not an issue for the purpose of the music here. Add to that the beautiful album art, and you have a sincere and captivating music experimentation from this honest and fresh East Asian music group.

Best moments of the album: 毀滅 Sin, 脫 Detachment and 渿河謠 Ballad Of Nai River.

Worst moments of the album: 九黎之舞 Wind And Stellar and 李鳳華 Li Fenghua.

Released in 2014 Pest Productions

Track listing
1. 引子 Intro 3:09
2. 毀滅 Sin 4:11
3. 九黎之舞 Wind And Stellar 5:58
4. 超脫 Detachment 8:24
5. 忘憂湖 壹 Lake Of Solace Pt.1 7:36
6. 忘憂湖 贰 Lake Of Solace Pt. 2 7:41
7. 渿河謠 Ballad Of Nai River 3:36
8. 李鳳華 Li Fenghua 2:58

Band members
Liu Qiang – vocals, guitars
Song Chen – guitars
Chen Xiao – bass
Zou Qiang – drums

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