TOMORROW’S RAIN – Ovdan (Album Review)

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A dirge of existential fatalism.

The glory days of 90s European death/doom and its more commercially accessible gothic offshoots might seem like a bygone era amid the 2020s, but recently a resurgence of sorts has been brewing of late both within and beyond the continent of its birth.

Like a woeful nostalgia for a time when slow-droning metallic riffs, lazy beats, and ethereal keyboards surrounded a clash of harsh and serene vocalizations, pioneering acts that include the likes of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Swallow The Sun and Moonspell would all make respectable studio splashes at the dawn of the current decade, and with them came a long-running yet lesser known Israeli act dubbed Tomorrow’s Rain.

Cut from a similar stylistic grain, though bringing their own unique blends of 80s gothic additives and intricate instrumental displays to the table as well, they would leave a deep impression with their 2020 debut LP “Hollow.” Just shy of 4 years after the fact, the same sextet would up the creative ante with their second studio excursion dubbed “Ovdan” (Hebrew for “Loss.”)

Barring the 2021 exodus of keyboardist Shiraz Weiss, the cast of musicians remains unaltered, and the expected cohesion in sound has been thusly maintained. Replacement keyboardist Alex Karlinsky, perhaps best known for his 5-year stint with the international black/folk metal outfit Arafel, proves to be no less up to the task of painting a bleak and sorrowful atmosphere with an array of haunting timbres. In fact, the resulting tapestries of lingering strings, synthesized voices, and piano segments are an integral part of what gives this album a slight boost relative to its predecessor, though one would be remiss to gloss over the reprised caliber of the rest of the arrangement.

Lead vocalist Yishai Sweartz turns in another varied display of dark guttural groans and somber chanting clean vocals to masterful effect, flanked by the melodically charged and intricate guitar work of Raffael Mor and Yoni Biton. Even the slow and steady kit work of Nir Nakav frequently steps out of the traditional funeral crawl to throw in a few flashy and even jazzy twists for good measure.

This album’s innovative character becomes apparent fairly early on, as the expected down-tempo anthems with a penchant for existential woe come with a few unique touches. The opening epic dirge simply dubbed “Roads” lands in a slow-paced fit of acoustic balladry that points to a typical elegy-like feel but is accompanied by a haunting saxophone melody at intermitted points and Karlinsky’s mixture of droning strings and spacey organ ambiences providing the dense sense of dreariness to complement Yishai’s dark chants and groans. Though this ranks among the most serene and gothic of this album’s entries, it comes to a brutal conclusion during its final 90 seconds.

Subsequent sonic chapters to this newly minted anthology like “Sunrise” and “Room 124” present a more well-rounded blend of ballad-like smoothness and a blistering metal edge, placing a greater emphasis on driving beats, heavier guitars, and nastier vocals, though the melodic and dreary side of the equation is by no means neglected. The more chaotic and mixed-up “Muaka” arguably lands in the most extreme place, bolstered by a sinister guest vocal slot courtesy of Mayhem’s own Attila Csihar, and also stands as one of the more technically charged entries of the lot.

Ovdan” Album Artwork

The middle and latter half of this album proves to be no less interesting, though the appearance of guest players in the arrangement becomes a bit more frequent. The tranquil atmospheric and highly gothic interlude “I Skuggornas Grav” gets dangerously close to a doom-like take on lounge jazz, with Yaggel Cohen’s gravely slow walking bass line and Karlinsky’s minimalist piano accompaniment standing out the most behind a dueling vocal display out of Unanimated’s own Micke Jansson and German singer Anja Huwe, while the somewhat more driving “Burning Times” finds Depressive Age singer Jan Lubitzki trading lines with Yishai above a constant yet riveting instrumental display, topped off by a particularly impressive drum performance by Nakav.

The tone turns heavily towards the gothic rock side of the coin with the upbeat splash of metallic melancholy “Turn Around”, which comes with a particularly flashy lead guitar outro provided by Michael Denner of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate fame. Things end with a respectable roar with another epic number in “Convalescence”, which opts for a greater degree of aggression relative to softer moments, but also opts to fade into the ether with a somber piano outro, which in turn segues into a pair of denouement epilogue songs, the first a dreamy clean guitar solo dubbed “Rainbow”, the other a narrated ambient conclusion named “Intensive Care Unit” to leave things on a testimonial note.

For an album that presents itself in a style that has been relatively commonplace in its approach for 30 years running, it takes a few interesting turns that make for an experience that is hard to mistake for any of the comparatively elder acts that pioneered it during the 90s. Yet an air of familiarity hangs over it that is sure to appeal to fans of the likes of Swallow The Sun, Draconian, and other bands that set the standard years earlier in Northern Europe. It falls just a bit shy of matching the infectious and iconic character of the most seminal offerings of My Dying Bride and Katatonia, but it is sure to find a welcome audience in the same general circle and provides an interesting, almost progressive foil to those bands.

This will definitely be a band to watch as the decade progresses, and insofar as death/doom in 2024, this will undoubtedly prove an album ready to trade blows with whatever the year still has left up its sleeve.

Released By: AOP Records
Release Date: April 19th, 2024
Genre: Doom / Gothic Metal

Musicians:

  • Yishai Sweartz / Vocals
  • Raffael Mor / Guitars
  • Yoni Biton / Guitars
  • Yaggel Cohen / Bass
  • Nir Nakav / Drums
  • Alex Karlinsky / Keyboards

Ovdan Track-List:

  1. Roads (Featuring Andreas Vingback of Dark Funeral and Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus)
  2. Sunrise
  3. Muaka (Featuring Attila Csihar of Mayhem)
  4. Room 124
  5. I Skuggornas Grav (Featuring Mickael Broberg of Unanimated and Anja Huwe of Xmal Deutschland)
  6. Burning Times (Featuring Jan Lubitzki of Depressive Age)
  7. Turn Around (Featuring Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate/King Diamond)
  8. Convalescence
  9. Intensive Care Unit
  10. Turn Around – Gothic Rock Version (Featuring Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate / King Diamond and Ben Christo of The Sisters Of Mercy)

OrderOvdanHERE

8.6 Excellent

Following a highly impressive debut that was roughly a decade in the making, Israeli death/doom trustees Tomorrow’s Rain use a combination of guest star power and the same winning formula to up the ante on their follow up LP

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
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