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I don't remember exactly how I came across A Dream of Poe's music, but since the first listen I was amazed by their sound. The best word I can use for describing their sound is Magic. Yes, magic. These portuguese guys (actually it's most an one-man project with Miguel Santos handling all the instruments with some guests) simply make a extremely powerful album. Their mellow, atmospheric, almost lullaby-esque sound is simply unique, offering a dark dream-like, mesmerizing atmosphere, comparable with Tiamat's Wildhoney (yet, the swedes' sound has a more exoteric tinge). Despite being relatively unknown, these guys hold the spot (in my honest opinion, of course) as the best portuguese band ever (Fernando Ribeiro, Eat your Heart Out!).
As I briefly described ADOP above, their unique Doom/Death makes a soothing, yet very dark atmosphere, giving the listeners a extremely contemplative experience. While the closest comparision of their sound may be My Dying Bride (heavy, slow, powerful and emotional), ADOP manage to take a noticiable amount of inspiration of them, but yet having a extremely original twist, never losing their strength and never being boring. The record has six relatively long tracks (the shortest lasts less than six minutes), which all can be considered highlights.
Neophyte, the album opener, is a showcase of everything these guys can do. Beautiful slow riffs, slow-paced drumming with excelent fills, amazing solos and their stand-out feature in my opinion: their vocals. The vocal work of this album can be compared to Solstice's Lamentation: delicate, soothing, calm vocals over doomy guitar riffs. And here they're even better, and we also have death growls. Guest João Melo is an expectacular vocalist, going without any difficulty between his mellow lullaby-esque singing and extremely powerful growls. While being a relatively long song (7 minutes), It feels like a endless second that when it goes away you can't help but want to go back again. This song is my favorite from the album, the first one i've ever listened and the song that made me fall in love with ADOP. Along with Whatever that Hurts from Tiamat's masterpiece Wildhoney is the best Death/Doom Song ever.
But the album has a lot more to offer. The album may not be the most varied around, but it has an impressive focus on textures and atmosphere, while retaining relatively simple song extrutures. The following, 10 minute crushing ambiance (this may be a paradox, but it's true) of Os Vultos comes after with one of the most original pieces that I've heard. We're presented with simple clean guitars, very slow rythms, along with spoken vocals in portuguese. With myself being brazilian, I had no troubles with focusing on the lyrics. Listening to such a powerful song in it's mother tongue it's a extremely incredible experience. These dark desolate lyrics simply mesmerize me. And when João changes the speech for death growls and everything turns heavier I couldn't help but shiver. And actually growls in portuguese sound really cool. The song floats out for more five minutes in an almost Floydian-esque way: bluesy guitar soloing and atmospheric “cradle-rocking”.
While all of the songs are really good, the first two pieces are the ones that stand out the most. Yet, all the following songs has lot of things to offer. Lady of Shallot and Liber XIX are mesmerizing nightmare-trips, with crushing guitars, slow rythms and João Melo impressive vocal work. He switches between clean voices, deep growls (the death growling on the later is simply impressive), an unision of the two, spoken words and even some delicate falsetto during Lady of Shallot. Liber XIX, in fact was a bit hard to me to get into, but after some listenings I could enjoy it better. The Lost King of the Lyre, the shortest song here, has some of the fastest riffing through the album, and has a lot of pretty leads.
Chrysopoeia, the longest song of the album, is overall a very good song, yet it's the weakest one. It has good vocals, nice riffs, and some interesting dark-as-hell atmospheres, but the song is a bit overlong in some parts, such an almost industrial outro with crashing low-pitched drums. Being it the weakest track on the record, I had to reduce de final score a bit.
A Mirror of Deliverance is a 6-track gem that MUST be in every Doom fan collection. This 6-track record is a 52 minute trip into the deepest of our inner self, a contemplative view of a desolate landscape, a dark dream that you don't want to wake up because its cold embrace strangely is so comforting.
As an aspiring mechanical engineer, one of the first things I've learned is the beaten motto that pure genius lies in simplicity. In that respect - Miguel Santos and the entire crew of "A Dream of Poe" have managed to craft the epitome of that motto, and the vast array of things this album manages to accomplish is indeed stunning, considering how straight forward it is. It seems that there IS, in fact, a way to write some highly intricate, engaging and enchanting stuff while using the verse-chorus template and without toying with time signatures, and there's a 51 minute worth of proof encased in "The Mirror of Deliverance". Who knew...?
Aside from the mandatory heavy, distorted sections, there's a great emphasis put on clean parts (whether as additional layers or sections in their own right) as well, and various moods are explored throughout (with uplifted songs like "Neophyte" and "The Lost King of Lyre" popping here and there as a contrasting tint to the general solemnity that adorns this album), prompting an emotional response on a wider scale in comparison to more ordinary doom metal. Stylistically speaking, A Dream of Poe has a lot in common with their great Latin brother overseas - Mar de Grises, although of significantly less "weight" - I've found no gothic elements in "The Mirror of Deliverance" per se, if one intends on sticking with the genre tag on the band's page, yet the said accent on the lighter and melodic side of things effectively diminishes the intensity of the album in favor of accessibility, which isn't a derogatory claim for a change in lieu of what this album tries to accomplish. It's highly melodic and mellow yet not at all sappy, and although it's significantly less complex than any of Mar de Grises' work, it still offers enough to please your mind as well as your ear. But buyers beware, for the album's seeming timidity is what's going to overpower you in the end.
To my knowledge, this is the second release by "A Dream..." to feature João Melo on vocals, and although I haven't listened to any of their works prior to "Lady of Shalott" (the title song of which also reappears on this album, much to my pleasure) so I'm oblivious of the fact how well their previous one did or what is his share in the vocal work on that particular album, but one thing is certain - I couldn't possibly think of a better fitting candidature than João for this spot. He sports a highly powerful growls that pretty much make the heavier segments of the album - but when the mellow parts come to play, he manages to switch to a surprisingly soothing clean timbre that compliments the nature of the music in a very symbiotic fashion, and although his true ability is indubitable (as showcased in the closing track), most of the time it is held back and never sticks out of place in a sudden seizure of flashiness. In fact, the said restraint applies to everyone who took a part in this release, whether by the guest vocalists or by the guest guitarists, each of which does his very best in harnessing out of Miguel's compelling and multi layered rhythmic work what's needed for them to spice it up while maintaining the coherence of the composition without turning it to a one-man-show, so even though the leads are of a formidable technical level, they appear sparingly and with good taste. Wrap all this up in a very clear and professional production, and the resultant would be something you can't possibly fail with.
Overall: There's absolutely nothing I can think of that's wrong with this album, apart from being a little light for my taste. It's as good to get one (or his nagging girlfriend) into metal as well as to ease one's way out, or just when you're willing to escape to a lighter and more quiet place in your life - "The Mirror of Deliverance" has all these qualities and much more, and although folks like me would usually stick to their heavier guns rather than reconnecting with their touchy side - there's no reason on earth why YOU wouldn't enjoy this album. One thing is sure though - A Dream of Poe is a band you'd really want to have an eye on in their future endeavors.
[Favorite bits: Os Vultos, Lady of Shalott, Chrysopoeia]