Old Man Of The Desert are an outfit by the very young Russian guy (actually he hails from the capital city Moscow) Alex ‘S.A.’. He started this project in 2013 when he was sixteen years of age, but in mean time there were quite some demonstrational recordings, as well as two split-contributions. He records everything himself in his home studio, by the way.
Now Frozen Light compiles several demonstrational (the demos MMXIII, Tales Of Northern Woods and Untitled Demo, and both tracks from the split with Neue Schwarze Sonne) and previously unreleased stuff (to compositions) in an edition of only 50 (fifty!) copies, hand-numbered. That’s way too few, for this material … – but please continue reading to notice why you need to hurry up to get your copy.
Oh yes, the artwork, once again done by Frozen Light’s Olga Matveeva (olgamatvey.com): grandiose in its soberness!!!
Untitled Compilation starts with three tracks from the demo MMXIII, and this opens with an own re-interpretation of the classic piece Saltarello, covered by hundreds of bands before, yet this time truly in a mostly remarkable execution. It’s mainly based on the melody itself, performed via acoustic guitars, yet added at from a certain moment with noisy and distant electric guitar distortion. I have always liked the original song, and some of the interpretations (with a non-hidden passion for Dead Can Dance’s edition), but this version impresses me by its authentic execution. Nice to start with, I think… What comes next are Alex’ outbursts of somewhat traditional and funereal-atmospheric Black Metal, strongly rooted in the sonic legends of the Second Wave (it goes for most pieces on this compilation, not only for the MMXIII-demo). Everything is instrumental, but I do not necessarily need vocal assistance right here. There are many additions that are worth being considered a surplus on the totality. I can, for example, appreciate the supportive synth lines (within a piece like The Flight it even comes with a sound that rather refers to the Hammond) and the many anti-cliché acoustic guitar excerpts. On top of it, some parts are built on many layers, despite the soberness and repetition. Not once the rather non-existing border with the Funeral Doom scene gets far away, and especially within the blacker excerpts, a touch of epic pride takes the figurative upper hand. It’s great too to notice that every release compiled on this album is little different from the others, yet undeniably created from the very same mind. You will find out yourself if you go deeper into Old Man Of The Desert’s effort(s).
A few remarks, however, need to be made too. In the first place I need to mention the inferior sound quality. It’s not terrible, but for sure not satisfying either. Okay, you can put on your speakers somewhat higher, yet still the mix won’t suffice. That’s a pity, for I think many details are missed. …missed changes therefore… Another issue is the lack of an own face. I will not say that Old Man Of The Desert are a copycat, but not once there’s a refreshing element. Some might think about a warming-up rehearsing session for some Funeral / Suicidal Black / Doom act before they actually go on stage. Some might dislike the lack of vocals and the use of mechanical programmed drum patterns too (I do not, but I need to mention this).
But let’s be honest. For his young age, Alex proves that he possesses the basics to become a professional performer. What he does with some pieces, both the metalized as well as the ambient-oriented ones, shows an upcoming maturity. With some professional assistance, and the necessary promotion (and I hope this review will be at least a first step), he might surely grow and rise. The guy needs to search for the right balance and, especially, an own identity, and who knows, maybe he’ll surprise even more with a next effort? I for sure am craving for more, though with a proviso…