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Mely > Portrait of a Porcelain Doll > Reviews
Mely - Portrait of a Porcelain Doll

Numbing melancholy at its greatest - 90%

kluseba, January 30th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Silverwolf-Productions

Mely were an excellent Austrian gothic metal band that I discovered when they opened for German symphonic metal group Xandria about a decade ago. The group immediately stood out among many exchangeable gothic metal acts. The main reason was the band's incredibly atmospheric music inspired by melancholic doom metal and lethargic gothic metal without female voices, harsh vocals or any other distractions. Mely's pure music is mysteriously hypnotizing but never boring as the choruses are quite catchy and the few guitar solos simple but very efficient. The group recalls the best moments of Type 0 Negative's and Paradise Lost's mellower moments.

This type of music works best if you give it a few spins to fully unfold. This record gets better the more you listen to it carefully. The sinister quasi-title track ''Bricks Against Porcelain Dolls'' has a disturbing and eerie soundscape and meanders between a dark verse and a desperate chorus. The vocals vary from almost grim spoken-word sequences over mysterious whispers to melodic clean vocals. The saddening lyrics are also worth one's attention. The album cover reflects the track's topic perfectly and is just as haunting as the song itself. Another outstanding track is the lethargic ''Hell Low'' that takes some time to quick up the pace and leads to the album's catchiest chorus. Even though this track was chosen for a few gothic magazine compilations back then, it isn't even remotely commercial but has the same gloomy and sinister atmosphere as the other tracks with a slightly more modern production and sound. On the other side, the simplistic but efficient ''Don't Wake the Sleeping Dog'' almost entirely relies on acoustic guitars and mellow vocals before the track reaches its emotional climax in the final third before melancholic piano sounds perfectly close this quiet grower.

Portrait of a Porcelain Doll is greater than the sum of its part thanks to an incredibly melancholic atmosphere and a coherent flow between the different tracks that are all worth your attention and time. Despite its simplistic musicianship and seemingly unspectacular execution, less is so much more as this album really exemplifies what gothic metal should be all about. This is a haunting album to listen to on a rainy autumn night on your own with a good drink and dimmed lights. It's a shame that Mely don't seem to be around anymore because they were easily among the best gothic metal band's of this millennium's first decade. If you can get your hands on any of Mely's records, don't hesitate to discover the profound world of authentic gothic music.

Mely - Portrait Of A Porcelain Doll - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, September 11th, 2009

Is it just me or is 2009 already turning out to be a strangely exciting year for albums? And not do I mean the expected albums of expected big bands but those of bands you'd never previously heard of? At least with what I've picked up from the promos sent in to us I've personally benefitted from some interesting albums across a variety of genres, always a more tempting prospect than another load of shit power metal or kvlt gr1m black metal.

So next on the chopping board is Mely, a 'gothic metal' band descending from Austria, who I chose to review in expectation of their support to Agalloch recently. Well, it turns out by the time I got in (read: stopped being cheap and drinking outside the venue) I only caught their last song, which is a pity because "Portrait Of A Porcelain Doll", the band's 4th album, has grown on me since listen one. The style of Mely is to be fair not one I am usually a fan of or know overly well, but through the lack of annoying female vocals and a pervasive atmosphere it has become an album I am enjoy listening to - a first for a 'gothic metal' album! Reminding me very much from what I knew of Sentenced (which was mainly through their closing performance to Wacken '05), Mely are a style part haunting and fragile, part heavy and bone-crunching and very much introspective. Stand-out track "Hell Low", may feature a key riff worryingly close to nu-metal territory but the vocal chorus is so built for the live setting that I wish my alcohol-dependent liver hadn't made me miss their Agalloch performance. As also exemplified in "Grown For Doom" (great title!), the vocals of Andreas Matain are loud and clear in the mix, which combined with the Sentenced influence results in a band I surmise would find much appeal to the teenage 'gothic' market, if only the band had a greater presence here.

Referencing anyone but the departed Finns is difficult as the kind of gothic metal they executed is the order of the day for Mely - the kind infinitely more interesting and listenable than the other kind of 'gothic band' - Within Temptation and the like. Hints of Down at their most mellow can be found in "Don't Wake The Sleeping Dog" and in "My Addiction" a Bossk/Cult of Luna post-metal touch floats around but it's a safe bet that if Sentenced did it for you Mely will too. A pretty good mark follows but surely my 'favourite ever gothic metal album' is more worthy an accolade for "Portrait Of A Porcelain Doll". Interesting release.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net