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Not bad, but nothing special - 69%

EschatonOmega, March 12th, 2014

By the time I heard the Swedish outfit’s debut, I had already become fairly familiar with their work through the most recent release “A Rose for the Apocalypse” and the borderline classice status release “Arcane Rain Fell” so I went into the debut “Where Lovers Mourn” as one of the later releases I took a listen to and, as I said, it had to grow on me. But after a good four or five plays, I’ve developed a modest liking for the release, but still I can’t help but feel the imperfections that are very present throughout.

But no album is perfect, especially debuts, so it is forgivable.

So back in the band’s early days (demo period) the sound could be listed as black metal influenced melodic death metal. With the release of “Where Lovers Mourn” the band went for a more straightforward death/doom metal approach with the black metal and gothic influence being a more backburner thing and very much less apparent.

Sound wise, it’s a heavy and thick mix of the violence of death metal and with the depression and slow speed of doom metal peppered with black metal influence (mostly in the guitar work) and a gothic touch of symphonic metal. Very heavily down-tuned guitars, paired with some subtle bass work to thicken the sound and slow yet strong drums layered with some sparcely used but very much involved keyboards that ad a lot to the atmosphere of the album, and of course the vocals, with some nice throaty death growls, more black metal influenced mid range howling and some spoken word passages for good measure all done by Anders Jacobson. But it’s female vocalist Lisa Johansson who sticks out the most in the vocal department. Her range is borderline operatic and vaguely melancholic. She gives a good deal of contrast and beauty to play off of Anders vocals very well. She’s really what gives the band that small touch of character that separates them from the rest of the pack of the genre.

The whole band performs very well and everything sounds very tight and well produced. This is especially present on the first track “The Cry of Silence” a very slow and very heavy tale of a misanthropic man who wishes to live his life and die in solitude away from anyone and everyone else in the world. It’s probably the best effort for the doom aspect on the album (an aspect both good and bad in retrospect considering that it starts at its best and goes downhill from this point) as well as the longest, yet not long winded and offers a good amount of variety with a few mid tempo parts to break up the sound so that the twelve and a half minute piece doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Next we have “Silent Winter” which goes to the other side of the scale and comes to us as the best effort for the faster, gothic and symphonic influence to show itself.

Unfortunately, as I said, the album goes a bit downhill from here. The best has been displayed for the first two songs and the rest of the record is a mixed bag filled with a lot of good ideas and just as many misfires. For starters, let’s address the main issue with this record; there’s nothing wrong with the performance or production. Both aspects sound great. No, the problems stem from the very song writing itself. See the thing about most of the songs here is that half of them are remakes that appeared here and there across the five demos they released over the past ten tears. The demo period in which they suffered from things like poor and lazy song structure, repetitive writing and a disinterested vibe plaguing the whole thing.

The only songs here that are originals to the album are “Silent Winter”, “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”, “Reversio Ad Secessum” and “Akherousia”. The rest are all remakes and while some songs have actually been improved by being remade (and by some I mean just “The Cry of Silence”) the rest suffer from the most of the same problems that came with them on the demos, just with tighter production. They’re not entirely bad though, “The Solitude”, “The Amaranth” and “It Grieves My Heart” are decent enough, probably the best songs out of the demos that, once again, were less than great, they’re entertaining to listen to and greatly preformed, they lack any real reason to go back to or remember or in any way shape or form care about. Songs that are good to listen to but you don’t care all too much past the first enjoyable listens. Then you have the original songs that I listed earlier which, save for “Silent Winter”, are all complete filler tracks. “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal” is the third track on the album, starting off pretty uninspired, staying that course for the next five minutes and ends before you know it. Completely un-impacted. Then comes “Reversio Ad Secessum” which is probably the most memorable of the trio (though that’s not saying much) with some interesting piano sections and nice vocal work by Lisa, but overall, nothing noteworthy. Then you “Akherousia” which is most guilty of this, a very brief (only two and a half minutes) piece that is the only ballad and the only one with Lisa doing all the vocals. It’s the most bored and uninterested song on the entire release and one to skip entirely, which is a real shame considering it could have been a good display of Lisa’s voice but ended up being wasted potential.

So in closing, the album as a whole, is decent. It’s not a bad release, but it has a great deal of flaws, enough so that I can’t say it’s a must listen. It’s worth a listen or two, but doesn’t go much past that. Besides that band would go on to garner a good deal of success with their 2005 follow up “Arcane Rain Fell” so it’s not that surprising that this release has been more or less forgotten about by both fans and the band themselves.

Pretty good start! - 89%

grimdoom, May 31st, 2008

Draconian is a curious entity in that they seemingly came from out of no where into the spot light after a few rather high quality releases. Lisa Johnson is by far a stand out singer and certainly one of the best female vocalists in the Metal field today.

The production is good enough for the songs within. The guitars have a very Black Metal feel to them opting for more opened chorded/single noted passages then the crunch the band would later use. They are a surprisingly epic yet incredibly melancholic. There are no solos but the leads are solid and misery filled. They only accentuate the sorrow in the lyrics.

The bass more or less follows the guitars and drums but it does sound good all the same. The drums are more or less standard Goth/Doom patterns, but they do work well with the material. The keyboards add to the vibrant atmosphere and help with the backbone of the guitar dirges. The lyrics are more typical for the style, about love and loss with a poem thrown in for good measure.

The vocals from both singers are brilliant. The male vocals go from spoken word to more mid-ranged Blackish howls to more guttural Death Metal growls. The female vocals are vibrant and sharp. They add a more drastic yet tasteful contrast to what has become one of the more played out trademarks in underground Metal.

Overall the only complaints about this album are that after the halfway mark some of the songs start to blend together. That and that Lisa isn’t featured more prominently. Aside from these, this is a very good debut album from an up and coming Goth/Doom Metal band. Highly recommended.

Amazing debut - 95%

PsyMoN_MDA, May 10th, 2008

”Beauty and the beast” metal started about 13-15 years ago with bands like The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy. And it is the first and the only female-fronted metal genre. Sadly, lots of people misunderstand this idea. I mean that today people think that if there is a girl on vocals, so it’s gothic metal. Being a fan of the genre, I am always looking for new bands. I am always happy to see that group X has a woman fronting it, and they sing gothic metal. So, what does further searching give? Google gives a picture of five glamorous people, especially the female vocalist, last.fm gives necr0satanic kvlt evanescence ”gothic metal”.

From all this, Draconian stands like a pylone in this musical genre, true ”beauty and the beast” metal. A band that represents gothic/doom/death and Sweden at their best.

This album and Arcane Rain Fell are more death/doom, the last two being more gothic/doom.

Where Lovers Mourn starts with what I think to be one of Draconian’s best songs: The Cry of Silence. Vocalist Anders Jacobsson stated in an interview that he has written it in a day when he tried to commit suicide. And one can feel the emotional intensity of it. Slow, then fast, then slow again, then the fast final part and it ends with a calm piano play. Poetically, I suppose that it is the soul of the song’s inner man who battles in agony and solitude, and finally finds redemption in death.

Silent Winter is a mid-paced gothic/doom piece with nice music and lyrics. A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal or, if to be more precise, the lyrics or, if to be more precise one more time:), the fact that they belond to William Wordsworth, gives a hint to one of the influences of Jacobsson, the band’s lyricist: English Romanticism of the XVIII-XIX century.

The Solitude is another of Draconian’s best. Starting with a cello, it is a slow 8 minute journey through a lonely path of existence. The sadness of the lyrics simply kills. ”I slowly bow my frozen features, in grief, in sadness and in woe…in grief, in sadness and in woe…” Wow…

Reverio Ad Secessum is another example of amazing death/doom. Also, it is the only song of the album which seems to have a fine thread of optimism and happiness in it.:) As for The Amaranth, the next song, it is a fine example of beautiful songwriting by someone who has read a lot of books in his life and has a reach vocabulary.

The only acoustic piece of Draconian’s creation is the seventh track of the album – Akherousia. The title reminds me something in the vein of Blashyrkh – an imaginary utopia where the song’s inner self finds happiness, very far away from this earth.

The last track is It Grieves My Heart, which has a strong antichristian message, a topic which is explored more on Arcane Rain Fell and The Burning Halo.

Overall, it is an extraordinary debut. The music is simple, but it’s the atmosphere that matters, and for that the guys get an A+.

Most metal listeners will appreciate the album’s musical harmony and lyrical beauty. As for the ones for whom doom is for their soul as rain on a flower dying in heavy drought, this album is definitely for you. Believe me, because I am one of you.

The only reason why Where Lovers Mourn doesn’t get 100% is that it is not the best Draconian album, imho. Arcane Rain Fell is.

Where gothic/doom lovers rejoice - 88%

Sean16, January 29th, 2006

Slow, dark and beautiful, that’s how this album could be summed up. There has always been a thin line between doom and gothic metal, and walking on this thin line like Draconian and a few others do usually leads to great results, like this album. And don’t be stopped by the fact they begin by a semi-epic track (12 minutes): it is easily the best on the album.

Draconian usually walks on one side of the thin line or another. Songs like Silent Winter or the wonderful The Amaranth are typical mid-paced gothic songs with only a few doom elements (the pace slows up a bit in the middle of both songs), sounding quite close to old After Forever, only ten times better and without tons of orchestrations, while A Slumber Did my Spirit Seals is a doom song with barely no other gothic element than the female vocals. Longest tracks, like The Cry of Silence, It Grieves my Heart or Reversio ad Seccessum usually show both sides of the band for the listener’s greatest pleasure.

The vocal duty is almost equally shared between Lisa Johansson (female vocals) and Anders Jacobsson (growls), maybe with a slight preference for the last. Both are more than decent singers fitting perfectly both gothic and doom parts. Other musicians don’t disappoint as well, though technicality is never at the order of the day, but after all we’re not talking about prog metal here. Production, crucial in this kind of music, doesn’t put them at a disadvantage: guitars and drums sound crushing, piano sounds crystalline, singers sound so, soooo sad, and the bass can even be heard!

Granted, The Solitude is a very repetitive track which seems to miss the point of both gothic and doom metal: neither dark nor oppressive, mostly built on whiny female vocals backed by quite uninspired and boring melodies. To sum up it sounds like most of self-named “gothic” bands sound: it fails building up any atmosphere, while atmosphere is the key of this genre. But the seven other tracks! The album always reinvents itself between doom crushing chords, gothic piano melodies, plaintive keyboards, tempo changes (especially in the first and last tracks), some unexpected flourishes like latin verses, or a discrete violin which sometimes does an apparition to add thickness to the music. There is even in the gorgeous first track a break which sounds closer from melodeath than from anything else and which could as well have easily taken place in any Dark Tranquillity album, while Akherousia is nothing more than a folk-inspired song showing Miss Johansson backed by acoustic guitars and some traditional fiddle. As stated before, the band isn’t fond of bombastic orchestrations, proving if necessary that those are rather useless as soon as you’re talented – and God, these guys and this chick are.

Concerning the overall mood of the album, you must have understood by now that you can’t expect a good laugh with it, these endless lamentations of some desperate poet crying in the cold wind being rather likely to pour litres of the darkest melancholy into your poor heart or to bring back some painful memories you thought you had forever forgotten. Actually, Where Lovers Mourn – a well-chosen title, for once – is the ideal album to listen while enjoying a good walk in a cemetery. Well, just look at the cover, it speaks for itself...

Highlights: The Cry of Silence, A Slumber Did my Spirit Seal, Reversio ad Seccessum, The Amaranth

Impressive depression - 89%

3415, November 27th, 2004

It´s not a particularly good idea to start off with a 12 minute track if you want to get fast attention from the listener. Draconian don’t give a shit about fast attention; actually they don’t seem to be too bothered wit anything that has any connection with the word “fast”. The opener “The cry of silence” is at times pure My Dying Bride worship, and anyone acquainted with the british doomsters knows that speed is not exactly their game. But, to dismiss Draconian as MDB clones is making it a bit easy for oneself, as they have more than this to offer.

They are equipped with some good tunes, and not all of them are slow, doomy efforts, even if that is their dominant feature. To their credit they mix up the tempos a bit within the songs to make them slightly more varied. Not all of the songs are ultra-long either, but even the long ones are good enough to hold your interest throughout.

They have both male (growling) and female (not so growling) vocals, which fits well to their musical style. They complement each other well, sometimes in a way resembling early Theatre of Tragedy works. Lisa Johansson has a clear and impressive voice that lifts several of the tracks on offer here to heights otherwise not reached.

The male vocals are also adequate, with just the right depth and power to breathe life (or death) into the music. The instrumental performances are equally well performed; they paint a musical landscape that is based on moderation well-crafted moods and melodies rather than full-on attack on their respective instruments and make sure that they don’t lose track of their original purpose. The songs never fall astray in their sometimes lengthy structure.

For a debut album, this is very impressive. This band have managed to steer their creative wills into an album that shows great promise, and that already is good enough to compete with several bands that are currently held in higher esteem. They are original enough, but if there is one area in particular that could be improved, that would be the one to go for first.

As for now, this album goes a long way towards proving their value to the metal scene.

Fantastic gothic doom. - 85%

Kanwvlf, July 22nd, 2004

This album starts off really slowly, but by the second song it pulls itself back up. The male vocalist has a pretty good, deep growl, definately suitable for the music, and the female vocalist has an amazing voice. It's a shame it's not used more, otherwise this would get a higher score.

This first song is very doomy, and then moves into a fast riffing part, while being growled over, and the occasional string section behind the music, and then falls back into the doom. Brilliantly beautiful.

The second song is definately the stand-out track for me on here. With some great riffing, the growls stand out quite a bit, and when the female vocals come through, they're absoultely amazing.

Although, in general, this album keeps skipping from doomy riffs, and onto fast moving sections, being encompassed by strings. And, most of the time, the growled vocals don't really seem to stand out anywhere.

I'd say, pick this up if you're a fan of gothic music, and want something a bit heavier, or for doom metal fans who want something a bit experimental in their music.