Nihil Euphoria had been one of the best albums of 2013, at least according to my particular yardstick of judgment, so I approached the new work of Russian Shallow Rivers with rather high expectations. The duo formed by guitarist Yury Ryzhov and vocalist Vladimir Andreev does not disappoint at all in that sense, even though The Leaden Ghost is definitely a different work in mood and style than its predecessor. Already the opening track, Of Silent Winds That Whistle Death, after a calm introduction, unloads on the listener a few minutes of death in the wake of the most direct tracks of Novembers Doom and only partially opens to the guitar embroidery to which the good Yury had accustomed us. We get to the second track, Light Upon Us, Haze Around Us, and the scenario changes, becoming that of the dreamy funeral death doom of Ea, with the keyboard well present in weaving the plots of a beautiful song, although it also certainly anomalous compared to what was exhibited in the debut album. Scorched, Wrecked, Torn, Then Crumbled To The Sea returns to the coordinates of the opening track, except for a central guitar break definitely more evocative, while We Are Cold is a short track with relatively catchy connotations, always taking into account the musical genre offered: here Rhyzov finally lets loose his melodic vein that finds a constant and effective counterpart in the stinging growl of Andreev. Snow further amplifies the openings of the previous song, proving to be undoubtedly the highest point of the collection thanks to the perfect dosage of ingredients, with gothic atmospheres aimed at dampening the wall of incommunicability that, in some circumstances, ours seemed to have definitely erected. The final title track is just the emblem of the work, with its alternation between parts characterized by a great harshness and fleeting atmospheric slowdowns: starting from the fifth minute the song opens definitely pouring on us all the drama and intensity of which Shallow Rivers are excellent performers. Summing up, the feeling is that Shallow Rivers felt the need to further tighten their sound, making it certainly darker but partially losing the melodic inspiration that had made the previous work something very close to a masterpiece.
The beauty of the last two songs makes it clear what this excellent pair of musicians is capable of and, even if The Leaden Ghost didn’t manage to excite me as Nihil Euphoria did in its time, it’s still very high quality.
2015 – BadMoodMan Music