thehappymask might be a strange name for a project whose anchor sound is that of black metal, but - in all fairness - we are not dealing with straight-up raw black metal. thehappymask, whose only member, Constantine, is a multi-instrumentalist, aims for an atmospheric and introvert mode of expression.
On Ruines, which is the first full-length by thehappymask (come to think of it Constantine has been incredibly productive in that he formed thehappymask in 2011 and released no less than five underground releases the same year, before Ruines was released in 2012), Constantine juxtaposes very simple black metal aesthetics with atmospheric effects not unlike the more melancholic branch of shoegazing alternative rock out there. Some tracks, like the opening 'Heavy Rain' and, to some extent, 'Old Broken Bridge', are more in the vein of dark ambient soundscapes, while others, like 'Dead Flowers' have more of a Depeche Mode feel to them.
Capturing the same sort of feel as Old Silver Key, albeit using more simple aesthetics and a quite minimalistic approach, the all instrumental album Ruines should appeal to music fans who enjoy both black metal and melancholic alternative rock. The production is a bit on the tinny side and will probably attract more black metal fans than shoegaze rock fans. But, in any case, if you are into melancholic music, give Ruines a listen.
1. Heavy Rain
3. Fading Beauty
4. Dead Flowers
5. Old Broken Bridge
6. Towards the Setting Sun
7. As Dusk Falls
8. Springtime Depression (Forgotten Tomb cover)