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Dracena is a metal band hailing from Sweden that was formed way back in 1994. Riding on the coat tails of a generation of Swedish death metal and thrash, Dracena has lurked in the shadows garnering the occasional odd mention or review. Most metal heads came across Dracena because of their all-female form. Granted, there was a time they had a male drummer and more recently they have enlisted a male guitarist, but the majority of Dracena’s history has been at the hands of female members, with Mia Larsson being the main driving force behind the band. For some reason, most all female acts tend to play the whole “we’re girls and dress in skimpy goth digs” and people eat it up regardless of whether or not the band can actually play decent music. To their credit, Dracena never played the battle of the sexes card. If nothing else, though, Dracena’s history has been rocky and scattered with sporadic releases. Hell, there has only been one full length album in the band’s twenty year history, 2006’s Infernal Damnation.
Returning in 2014, and bringing with her a male drummer in the form of the mysterious man known only F., Larsson released the band’s second EP, Ravenous Bloodlust, which consists of four tracks and a short intro. You know, I understand that a lot of musicians have lives outside of their bands, but you would think that after eight years you could release more than four tracks of new material? This time around Larsson handled all guitar, bass and vocal duties, with F. performing drums. While there are only four actual tracks here, they pack a powerful punch, with blasting drums, trashy riffing with death metal overtones, snarled vocals and plenty of lead guitar licks running off into the night. The music is heavy and rather fast, like any good thrash and death metal amalgamation should be. “Witching Hour” shows Larsson switching gears between a rhythmic, near galloping thrash riff and Iron Maiden-esque lead licks while the title track, “Ravenous Bloodlust”, sounds like a mix of chunky old school death metal riffing with some faster thrash riffs thrown around for good measure.
What I find most surprising in the amount of subtle melody thrown throughout the release, which is probably due to a large amount of traditional metal influence in the riffing and song structures. The main riff on “Essence of Evil”, for instance, wouldn’t sound out of place on Pile of Skulls era Running Wild. Even with all of melodious lead licks, this is still a solid slab of thrashing death metal. I attribute most of Dracena’s heaviness, aside from the furious riffing and blasting drums, to the snarled, rasped vocals, which really remind me of Demonized era Astarte (which isn’t a bad thing).
This isn’t a groundbreaking release but it is nice return to the metal scene for Dracena after a long absence. Apparently, Larsson isn’t messing around this time as there are already rumors of a full length album in the works and the lineup has been bolstered to a four piece. A full length album of blasting, thrashing death metal with touches of traditional soloing and a keen sense of melody? This EP is solid but it’s a short EP. It’s good for what it is, though; a quick introduction to the world of Mia Larsson and Dracena.
Written for The Metal Observer: