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Piracy or theft? - 83%

Tonger_Bloedhiem, February 20th, 2012

The Mary Celeste set sail from New York in the year 1872. On board were a small crew and a huge amount of pure alcohol. The vessel was found, empty, floating around as a ghost ship. Was it piracy or theft by the crew itself? A mystery ever unsolved. Mandrake has put this story on music and of course the album was called 'Mary Celeste'.

This nautical history lesson kicks off with the more than decent title track, displaying an up-tempo female fronted version of The Vision Bleak. Catchy, dark, melodic and almost danceable.

The main riff of 'Crystals of Forgiveness' could easily have been one of Blackheim (Katatonia), where 'Fragile' sounds more like a lofty doom metal anthem. Asrai and old Within Temptation (Enter period) probably serve as examples for 'Forgiven'. One last act of name-dropping: doesn't 'Sweet Desolation' sound like a well known Coldplay hit song?

Despite the various influences, this Mandrake album never really gets exiting. A clear no-go for fans of unpredictable, technical or brutal metal. On the other hand, 'Mary Celeste' never bores me. It has a kind of comforting flow, it never becomes too cheesy or unnatural and the total playing time is just about perfect.

Most vocal duties are taken care of by Birgit Lau , only incidentally using her high pitch voice. No opera aspirations can be found on this album. Thank god! Here and there Lutz de Putter fills in a few lines with his low voice. Truly an addition to the whole.

If the Mary Celeste ever sets sail to my hometown, I will surely come to salute her and (if granted permission) step on board to meet the crew of Mandrake.