Lake of Tears

Illwill

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These guys never really were about crying a lot, but Illwill is the farthest they've ever gotten from their moniker, because it is one relentless storm of bleak, black fury. It's hard to say what really ticked off Daniel Brennare and his fellows into writing a record that musters more ferocity than Korn's latest, but it was a strong impulse that left them sounding angry and misanthropic enough to leave old fans uncomfortable -- at first. Their core sound is unchanged: over the years, Lake of Tears have graduated into riff masters of the highest caliber, on par with any stoner rock greats, and they show their skills on Illwill, which may be their tightest, most focused album yet, and definitely their heaviest. Not the most accessible, true: the guitars are frantic and the mood oppressive, almost like Katatonia on a murder spree, or even Metallica circa St. Anger, only without the self-indulgence. "U.N.S.A.N.E." actually has faint traces of the post-hardcore band of the same name (but different spelling), though the '80s metal instrumental break confirms the similarity to be a trick of the mind. Then again, the closing tune borders on black metal, with growls and skull-bashing drumming. But on the other hand, there is also "House of the Setting Sun," which sounds like any ballad off 1999's Forever Autumn, only with all color drained -- and that, along with the still-present catchiness, confirms that it's the same Lake of Tears, despite the morbid vibe and the drywall-breaking riffage.

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