April 22nd, 2012
Release length: 17:29
Musically, Ebon Lore is not that big a leap from the works under the Lustre name. However, it certainly is as far as the levels go. The audio quality here still holds a bit of a raw edge to it, and can often weave in some emotional and atmospheric concepts similar to that brand of Black Metal, which is showcased at the start with “The Owl” and the distant loud speaker effect on the vocals that adorns much of the song. But, musically, everything is crisp and comes off like a modern digital recording, while still capturing a rather cold environment. The music, largely played at a slow pace, is mostly composed of an acoustic guitar, and effects on the vocals that often are in the background, though sometimes closer to the microphone in harsher, or cleaner tones. This leaves the environment of the music to be more intimate and personal, but also melancholic and depressing.
As already mentioned, “The Owl” has a vocal effect on it throughout, giving off an animalistic cry to the harsher, louder vocal performance. It does end up a little annoying in the long run, but the concept of it being the cries of a distant owl in a cold, dark plateau is still apparent enough that it works with the music to establish a very depressive setting. The later low humming that accompanies the guitars really pushes the atmosphere forward superbly into a very emotional experience that will tug on the listeners heartstrings until the final note is strung, and it all fades away. Sadly, this is the only one that packs this strong an atmosphere into the material, which you’ll pick up quickly during “Flying.” This may not be quite the same experience, but it is pretty close, and gets the point across effectively. The louder, soothing vocals match the tone of the acoustic guitar well, even though they can become a little annoying after a short amount of time, and thankfully that’s about as long as they stay. There are some subtle background effects that make the song a little more rich at times as well, and they often help out the atmosphere more than just enhancing the empty areas. As you reach the end of the track, the music does pick up a little more, and the earlier chant styled vocals eventually do stop to allow the second acoustic guitar a chance to have a simple solo that just really helps the song back into the beautiful terrain.
Unfortunately, this is about where the atmospherically impressive material comes to a halt. This isn’t saying the last two songs are bad, but “Woods” definitely is a different approach overall. It doesn’t quite focus on the environment as much as it does just trying to create a good Folk song. The additional background effects of heavily distorted wind chimes fade in and out throughout the song, and the chords are as soothing as the soft humming vocals against it. The chorus is very well done, leading to some beautiful passages that throw a little more energy and passion into the mix, all making a very laid back, solid musical experience. This actually ends the real music, as “Epilogue” is just am Ambient closing piece that uses a roaring fire, razor-like wind lashing behind it in the background, and more harmonized layered humming that eventually fades at the three-minute mark. There is a spoken word segment towards the end that comes in a little louder and hollow, but it really don’t make much of an impact on the overall experience. This may not be the most amazing cut of the EP, but it at least does what it sets out to do.
Wisdom of the Owl shows a great deal of potential for this project, and is clearly handled with great care. All three acoustic tracks are really enjoyable, though “The Owl” clearly makes the biggest impact on the listener, pushing the tone of the album as far as it can go without being too over-the-top, and still be effective. Ebon Lore is definitely an act to keep your eye on, and while the music may be simple, the emotional toll that lies in the compositions is something you rarely see today in any style of music, at least as well done as it is here. Nothing ever feels like it is just too much or too complex, but rather simple and catering to the concepts of nature well, all the while finding a cold, depressing environment of its own to spring on the unsuspecting listener. If you get the chance to check out Wisdom of the Owl, it is definitely worth spending the roughly sixteen minutes of your life with to experience this sure to remain deep underground and overlooked release.
01. The Owl – 4:30
02. Flying – 4:01
03. Woods – 4:49
04. Epilogue – 4:09
|Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10