Ebony Tears - _A Handful of Nothing_
(Black Sun Records, 1999)
by: David Rocher (
The possibility, back in 1998, that there would be no sequel to Ebony Tears' rather unequal 1997 debut _Tortura Insomniae_ [CoC #30] (this being due to the fact that members Johnny Wranning and Conny Jonsson wanted to concentrate on their power/thrash project Dog Faced Gods) wasn't really something I was losing any sleep over. Admittedly, _Tortura Insomniae_ did feature a few cool, enticing tracks (that were mainly catchy thanks to the adjunction of nice violin playing) but the album was generally let down by an excessively weird production, perfectible songwriting and Johnny Wranning's annoying vocal style, that unceasingly shifted from death to black and back, and then suddenly mutated into brutal raucous tones -- all this for no apparent reason, right in the middle of a phrase. With _A Handful of Nothing_ however, Ebony Tears have placed the emphasis on aggressiveness and efficiency, and basically recorded a second album that, in my eyes, has the enjoyable, spicy taste of a "no more mister nice guy" kind of declaration. Conny Jonsson's guitar work now bears the stigma of thrash-influenced death metal riffage a la Gothenburg, Johnny Wranning has put and end to his iffy experimenting with vocal styles to concentrate on a rasping, aggressive form of singing, and the violin, which I can only guess was finally perceived by the band as being a misplaced element in their music, now only appears on one single track (the short, distorted instrumental piece "Erised"). Solidly welded onto the thick skeleton of the powerful and fast drum playing (syncopated double bass drumming galore!), the bass and guitars are now given all necessary leeway to develop alone the catchiness and appeal that the violin offered on _Tortura Insomniae_... and it works like it never did before! _A Handful of Nothing_ has turned out to be a catchy, energetic and violent album that never loses its firm double grip on power and melody and shows -vast- improvement on Ebony Tears' earlier songs. Not only will fans of their first output definitely recognise the band with this new effort of theirs, but _A Handful of Nothing_ is also quite able to appeal to metalheads who had failed to be keeled over by the cool, but nonetheless rather "tepid" music played by Ebony Tears so far.
(article published 8/12/1999)
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