ALBUM REVIEW: My Life’s Despair ‘Invoked With Passion And Pain’

MY LIFE’S DESPAIR
‘Invoked With Passion And Pain’
April 2015
6/10

‘Invoked With Passion And Pain’ is My Life’s Despair’s debut album, coming 21 years after the Gothic doom band from South California was conceived – initially as a solo project – by drummer Larshus. Three demos followed between 1995 and 2001, before an EP was released in 2009. After abandoning work on a troubled concept album, Larshus joined forces with friend N. Sanity (geddit???) to create something new.

Most of the songs on this long-awaited debut full-length are well balanced and expertly crafted, building momentum and drama with great patience and control. The album has a distinctive early 90s feel – an innocent and genuinely cathartic approach – while the influence of embryonic Tiamat is very apparent.

The album’s biggest issue, however, is that the DIY production leaves it sounding a little thin and flat, seriously reducing the atmospheric impact of the music. Songs such as ‘Patterns In The Chaos’ and ‘Apparitions Of The Sky’ would be truly spectacular with a bigger, richer sound. The cover of Tiamat’s brilliant ‘A Caress Of Stars’ is not only placed a little too early in the track list to sit comfortably, but also reminds us of the flawed sound quality – it is all too apparent what we’re missing.

My Life’s Despair incorporate synths, pianos and operatic female vocals to great effect and while they could be integrated more delicately in some places, they augment rather than dominate. One or two songs are of lesser quality, with the Paradise Lost-esque ‘She Said Forever’ feeling rather pedestrian in comparison to other tracks, and ‘Dream Dimension’ adding little but frustration, but elsewhere it is clear to see considerable potential.

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