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Brighter Goth Now - 70%

autothrall, January 24th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Rebel Monster

The Bloodline's sophomore album Where Lost Souls Dwell does on the surface seem like it might have fallen into the dorky, superficial trap that I had mentioned on my review of Opium Hearts, but it becomes immediate upon listening that this is cast in much the same mold as its predecessor, only a bit brighter, better balanced and dare I say it, more 'fun'. It's clearly improved in the production department, and that does drain some of the drab murk from the songwriting, but they also make a better implementation of electronics, and the seductive female vocals become more prominent since I believe both Roman and Kemi are now contributing about equal in that area. You've still got the growls, the soaring, simple guitar leads glazed over the top that elevate it all to a level it would have otherwise un-phased, but there's just a lot more to appreciate, both obvious and subtle.

For example, the strangely pick-me-up vibes of "At the Waters of Lethe" cede to some trailing feedback and horn-like blaring ambiance to set up the really somber "Final Journey" which gives off vibes of a match up between late 90s Tiamat and Theater of Tragedy. The vocals arrangements on this one in particular are quite nice, because it's like you've got the guttural/ethereal exchange plus some more ambient vocals off in the background, and despite the minimalism of its chords and structure, it's potentially the most hypnotic track they wrote over both records. They go much further with the pure electronic experimentation in the title track than they'd previously attempted, and then change lanes for the fun Goth/pop intro to "Cut the Chords" which then smacks you abruptly with the sorrowful lead and chugging. At times, there can feel a risk of The Bloodline losing control where her vocals might drift a bit too distant from the rest, and this reminds me a little of another German Goth band, The Breath of Life, with its unnerving but beautiful singing.

So, I approached the album groaningly because its cover photograph looked like it was meant for David Bowie or Dead or Alive or some 80s pop of that nature, and was pleasantly surprised that the duo had put in some work to improve their style. Granted, if you loathe all things simple and Goth inflected when combined with the heavier guitars and growls, Where Lost Souls Dwell is not going to change your mind, but if your record shelf includes titles like One Second, Skeleton Skeletron, Musique, or half the Lacrimosa discography, this one is adept enough at combining the vibes of Gothic doom metal and pop that you might have a good time with it. It sounds a lot better than it looks...perhaps not six years worth of evolution from the debut is evident, but it's a catchy escape which doesn't bog itself down with too much cringe.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com