review by: Ignacio Coluccio
Desolate North could be described as a mix of funeral doom and ambient, with the inclusion of what could have been a really good idea: atypical instrumentation.
And it's yet another case of an album getting absolutely ruined by some big fat errors:
A - The guitar tone. Simply, it's horrible. Don't know if it's the production or the guitar itself, but it comes out sounding way too ethereal and without a real "body." So while you're expecting crushing heaviness, you only get ambient-like, synth-sounding guitars that don't fit at all.
B - The drum programming. All the album uses the same cymbal every beat, and it's not a really pleasing sounding one. Even if it was, after the 1000th time you hear it, it'll bring the serial killer out in you.
C - The production itself. Sure, it's necro and cult and all to record in a cheap way, but this kind of funeral doom needs a pompous production. Refer again to points A and B.
It's sad, because compositionally, Desolate North is way above average. The intros and interludes are tastefully done, some sounding really medieval. The keyboard parts in the actual songs are good too; same goes for the random noises over them. The clean guitar rhythms are really atmospheric and could surely replace all the distorted guitar ones. The vocals are special as well, even if kind of low in the mix.
So, the so-called "open-minded incorporation of traditional instruments such as a harp and the Native American flute" would have been fantastic... if you could actually hear them as traditional instruments. They sound way too MIDI for one to pay much attention to them. Sure, they most probably were played well, but the production just destroys them. Again, pompous ideas deserves a pompous production.
So until there’s a re-recording with a new guitar, avoid Desolate North. (2.95/10)