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Baroque brilliance - 90%

kluseba, April 28th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2012, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Sanguine Glacialis is one of several avantgarde metal bands from Quebec that evokes the atmosphere of a sophisticated horror tale throughout its entire full length debut release Dancing with a Hanged Man. Gloomy sound samples of haunted screams and whispers over wind and wuthering, Baroque music dominated by harpsichord, organ and piano sounds, progressive metal influences combined with more chugging riffs and a classically trained female singer that meets throaty male growls are the ingredients of this sextet from Montreal. The band’s old-fashioned clothes used on stage, the gloomy album cover and the poetic lyrics in both English and French further underline the band’s Baroque gothic metal style.

The group could be described as a less stressful version of Unexpect and a slightly less creative group than Le Grand Guignol. The band also has a similar sound to Akphaezya. In brief, the band’s style is quite particular but right up my alley. Since Le Grand Guignol and Unexpect are no longer active and Akphaezya hasn’t released anything for nearly five years, Sanguine Glacialis’ inception might have happened at a strategically clever moment. The band clearly deserves further attention and should get invited to gothic festivals from all around the world.

What I like about the band is that its songs are quite accessible thanks to a consistently gloomy atmosphere, memorable vocal lines and a few well-dosed surprises such as short throat singing passages for example. Despite being incredibly detailed, the music never feels overloaded. The record grows more and more after several spins since there are so many soundscapes to discover.

The only reason why this record didn’t get an even higher rating is because I believe the band can develop an even more unique sound that doesn’t need to be compared to the groups mentioned earlier and because there are a few too many chugging and uninspired main riffs in a handful of songs that could have been avoided. Fans of avantgarde, gothic and even symphonic metal should though give this band a chance and this album a few well-deserved spins. The group is also quite convincing on stage and currently working on a promising sophomore full length effort, so this might be your chance to catch up with this creative band.

One great song in fifty minutes of recycling - 45%

PorcupineOfDoom, May 31st, 2015

Not gonna lie, I'm disappointed. I did expect more from this band, and perhaps that's why this review is going to be so negative. When I first found Sanguine Glacialis, they just gave me the impression that what they'd come up was going to blow me away. But having listened to the entirety of this album a few times, I'm not as impressed as I'd hoped to be. Let's be clear, it isn't bad, but equally it isn't great.

I think one of the contributing factors to my disappointment is that the first track I heard on this album was by far the best one. 'Into the Heart of Chaos' is wonderfully dark, a brilliantly crafted song with exactly the kind of atmosphere I was looking for from the band. This is mostly the keyboardist's doing, as she works some kind of magic to create a truly haunting sound. The guitars are mostly there for force, although the solo at the end of the song is beautiful and deserving of some high praise. The operatic vocals also managed to really get to me, and it really wraps up the entire package. 'Into the Heart of Chaos' was exactly what I was looking for, and that perhaps caused me to raise my bar even further than before. And sadly, every other song on Dancing with a Hanged Man falls way, way short of what was shown here.

See, I'm not quite sure what happened on the rest of the album. The keyboards that sounded so great on 'Into the Heart of Chaos' sound rather dull elsewhere, even boring and sometimes irritating. The guitars stick to either chugging, weak repetitions or random noodling that is completely out of place, aside from the occasional moment of inspiration when it's too late to save anything. As for the vocals, the female opera singer seems too eager to impress and overdoes quite a few different passages while the growls rarely feature and barely make any impact when they do. The backing vocals are actually better than both leads, which might compensate for her poor work on the keys if she was given more to do. The only part of the band that remains consistent is the drumming, which is solid, but obviously that isn't going to fix a mess like this one.

To be honest, I don't know why everything is such a mess. Maybe everything just worked on that one song and didn't fit together so perfectly elsewhere. Whatever the case, it's a bit of a letdown, especially once you start noticing that the same ideas have been inserted in multiple different areas across the album. By the time you reach the end of the album even for the first time you'll get the feeling that you've heard it already. Given that more than half the songs on the album last over six minutes, each song drags on a bit and by the end of each you're left feeling more and more sick of the band.

Basically, Sanguine Glacialis are a band that I found to be far too repetitive. There's a lack of variety here, and only one song really grabs my attention like I'd hoped. Maybe this will appeal more to others, but unless you can put up with fifty minutes of what is effectively the same song, I'd recommend that you steer clear of Dancing with a Hanged Man.