Dark Tranquillity – Construct

A new Dark Tranquillity’s release always comes with a great deal of excitement. In the case of “Construct”, all expectations and wishes are definitely fulfilled as this album is a perfectly balanced masterpiece. “Construct” can easily satisfy any type of audience as it includes loads of melancholic melodies skillfully blended with the aggressive attitude of the renowned Gothenburg style metal. Dark Tranquillity confirms its pioneer status and also reinvents its own music style rather than simply recycling it as many other bands do.

“For Broken Words” will easily become a favorite with its addictive mix of disillusion and resentment. The guitars’ sound couldn’t be more perfect with such an icy delivery and dynamic strength. I’m particularly fond of the slow gloomy breakdown in which the guitar’s melody gracefully glides over the keyboards’ passages.

“The Science Of Noise” is an high impact guitar driven track with a very memorable chorus. The faster and angrier rhythm full of tight guitar riffing is very dominant but there is still space for a good dose of charming dark melodies. In this deceitful chaotic rhythm, the lead guitar work shines for the highly creative details.

“Uniformity” is probably the saddest song of the album. The guitar and keyboards melodies are beautifully written in a deeply dramatic fashion.  It’s so easy to fall in love Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals full of passionate demise and decadent romanticism to the point that simply defining his performance impeccable would not be fair.

“The Silence In Between” still holds that breathtaking dismal depth in the elegant melodic breakdown. Yet, the rhythm is faster and more aggressive with tempestuous drums and a rampant series of crispy metallic guitar riffs.

“Apathetic” delivers a blast of pure energy through traditional heavy guitar riffs without the need of an extremely aggressive music core. Among the fierce growls and swift drumming, there is a lingering dark mood deliciously enhanced by vivid arpeggios.

“What Only You Know” has an irresistible melodic core built with a super clean guitar sound and highly atmospheric keyboards.  The catchy, almost blissful, opening guitar riff might mislead the listeners. In reality, this is another intensely melancholic song as clearly showcased by the slower graceful tempo and the sorrowful clean vocals.

“State Of Trust” is another friendly tune that revolves around the loveable fusion between the primordial wrath of metal and the grace of melodic arpeggios. This charismatic ensemble is further enriched by poetic ambiance keyboards arrangements and Stanne’s delightful clean vocals.

“None Becoming” has a distinctive hypnotizing gothic tinge. The atmospheric and ethereal keyboards layers successfully generate a realm of asphyxiating sense of defeat while the guitars deliberately bring illuminating harmonies.

“Construct” tends to favor Dark Tranquillity’s darkest melodic feature but it also offers a wide musical variety. The palpable passion behind the creation of each and every song is one of the many reasons why you must listen to this album.

 

 

My Dying Bride – A Map Of All Our Failures

My Dying Bride’s long awaited brand new studio release “A Map Of All Our Failures” might be intimidating to the average listener, but it is certainly a must-have for the band’s faithful fans. Despite the dramatic title, there is no sign of failure here, as My Dying Bride delivers another highly successful collection of stunning musical compositions. Each and every song features a particular tragic tale illustrated by a highly complex instrumental work.  The distinctive romantically decadent violin phrases, skillfully performed by Shaun MacGowan, are back as a major element in the band’s songwriting.

“Kneel Till Doomsday” is an eloquent musical drama. The guitar riffs are extremely somber and heavy in traditional doom fashion but the gloomy violin melodies render everything more unique. There are blasting instants of extreme/death metal asphyxiating rhythms, yet this track maintains an exquisitely melodic core.

“The Poorest Waltz” shines for its decadent poetical attitude enriched by a series of layered clean vocals and its main musical theme is easy to follow due to the elongated melodic guitar riffs. There is still a wide array of obscure feelings and pure melancholy mixed all over the song, but the overall musical vibe is less heavy with a slower tempo.

“A Tapestry Scorned” revolves around that wretched hopeless feeling that has been emphasized in My Dying Bride’s earlier releases. The guitar riffs are pleasantly catchy yet incredibly heavy, the violin accent is actually a fundamental piece that enriches Aaron Stainthorpe’s impeccably theatrical performance.

The title track is filled with delightful violin and guitar dual riffing that should be savored slowly. Aaron’s elegantly sorrowful interpretation belongs to the realm of poetry. After the mysterious slow and dense break down, melodic guitars take over by adding strength and dynamic to the musical tapestry.

“Hail Odysseus” has a mythological theme and mixes the ominous fury of death metal tight guitar riffing with a majestically epic arrangement. Tempo and style changes flow effortlessly throughout the song which has also a very strong rhythmic core. Aaron offers, once again, a brilliant vocal performance characterized by rare passion.

While “Within The Presence Of Absence” focuses on a painfully romantic theme harmoniously portrayed by delicious violin melodies, “Abandoned As Christ” has a deeply tragic and obscure vibe fully expressed by the breathlessly prolonged heavy guitar riffing.

There are no simple or complex words available to fully describe the type of discouraging darkness that only My Dying Bride has been able to portray, yet again, on this new release.  I highly recommend listening carefully to “A Map Of All Our Failures” as this album can be easily classified as a modern gothic/doom metal masterpiece.

 

Candlemass – Psalms For The Dead

Listening to “Psalms For The Dead” you will remember why Candlemass will always be an iconic band in the doom metal scene.  This is one of the few bands that have been true to themselves throughout their careers and did not change their music style just to follow a trend. Therefore, Candlemass’s new album is nothing but the reconfirmation of their talent at creating excellent doom metal songs.  Unfortunately, it seems that “Psalms For The Dead” will also be the band’s final studio album.

“Prophet” introduces the band’s musical intentions with undisputable elegance. The guitar riffs are structured according to that heavy doom fashion that has become Candlemass’s trademark. As the rhythm gets faster with some epic sounding keyboards, a pleasant lead guitar solo adds additional catchy dynamics to the atmosphere.

“The Sound Of Dying Demons” is filled with an ominous atmosphere of obvious impending doom. As the rhythm gets slower, majestic eerie keyboards become more dominant. The main guitar riff is definitely catchy and has the atmospheric profundity of early Black Sabbath.

That same type of killer guitar riff leads the way on “Waterwitch”. Everything gets dark, slow and ghostly but still extraordinarily groovy especially in the amazingly eclectic guitar solo. The soft controlled vocals accompanied by bold doom bass phrases create a creepy atmosphere.

The title track has a pleasantly accessible structure and adds a melancholic atmosphere to the classically doom guitar riffs while the chorus showcases an epic vibe. The first guitar solo is slow and emotionally melodic while the second gets vivid with more shredding, so there is something pleasant for any guitar style lovers.

“The Killing Of The Sun” and “Siren Song” are very passionate tracks that bring back the fine traditional heavy doom guitar riffs. At times, the vocals get epics in power metal fashion; the rhythmic sections are extremely groovy especially on “Siren Song” where some psychedelic, yet eerie, organ style keyboards add a higher degree of variety.

I cannot deny that Messiah Marcolin’s vocals had a peculiar depth and color that intensely complemented Candlemass’s music style but Robert Lowe’s performance is quite remarkable on this album.

“Psalms For The Dead” is a passionate and powerful collection of classic doom songs which will absolutely please a large number of metalheads.

The 69 Eyes – X

With the new album “X”, The 69 Eyes goes back to its goth ‘n’ roll true nature. Even if for a while the Finnish band has been lured by the shiny glam of the L.A. style, the gothic attitude on “X” appears to be as genuine as possible. So, let’s forget the glamorous party vibe of “Devils” and “Angels” and take the chance to follow The 69 Eyes in its infamous darker comfort zone.

“Love Runs Away” is a symbol of that romantic catchy gothic rock that made The 69 Eyes extremely popular at the beginning of its career. The songwriting here is quite simple with cool guitar melodies and a super catchy chorus that feels like a dance in a cemetery.

“Tonight” has a more somber atmosphere with light guitar riffs but the chorus brings that dirty rock attitude typical of the band’s early music style.

“Black” has a slower paced rhythm with more evident gothic influences and a dark romantic attitude perfectly portrayed by Jyrki’s grave and sexy vocals.

The same attitude is extremely amplified on “If You Love Me The Morning After” with sweet semi acoustic melodies and passionate vocals. Yet, the true dark love ballad on this album is the lovely super slow “When A Love Comes To An End” where the musical core is filled with very soft melancholic melodies and traditional rock guitar riffs.

“Red” is the first single released from this album and certainly an easy song to remember. The guitars build an ensemble of effortless, yet passionate, melodies, the chorus is darkly addictive and Jyrki’s performance incarnates every aspect of the band’s musical manifesto.

“I Love The Darkness In You” is another highlight of “X”. Jyrki’s voice is as low and mysterious as it can be, but it also showcases an undeniable cold rocker attitude. The psychedelic keyboards reminding of The Doors style are a delightful addition to the extremely enjoyable guitar riffs.

You might find “X” kitsch or redundant at times, yet each and every song carries The 69 Eyes’s irresistible signature style and will inevitably get stuck in your head.

 

Live Kristine – Libertine

The iconic Liv Kristine is back with a brand new solo album entitled “Libertine”. As all her previous solo material, “Libertine” is characterized by a music style that lingers in between pop and rock rather than gothic metal. Liv Kristine’s outstanding vocals are certainly the center of attention but, this time, the songwriting is all about melodic purity and spontaneity and seems more consistent and attractive.

“Vanilla Skin Delight” is an obvious hit with a groovy unforgettable chorus. The music tapestry leans towards the realm of indie/alternative rock with refreshing easy melodies filled with positive emotions. Also, this track features an excellent duet with Platinum-Gold-awarded artist Tobias Regner.

“Paris Paris” is the other bright star in the album. The electrically groovy mood and the sweet French words scattered throughout the lyrics makes this track irresistible. Liv Kristine’s voice is as romantic as possible and, as always, flawless. Also, the mood and the interpretation here are witty naughty and Live Kristine’s vocals remind me of her unforgettable performance with Theatre Of Tragedy during the “Musique”/ “Assembly” era.

In general, there is a lot of romanticism perfectly enhanced by the soft side of Liv’s voice in “Libertine”. “Wait For Rain” and “Silence” are stunning dreamy ballad style tracks that tend to explore the human heart and all the aching melancholic feelings within.

“Love Crime” is a particularly emotional song with classical piano and string quartet in Tori Amos style. Following this winning style, Liv Kristine showcases a wide range of technical skills and delivers a brilliant performance in dramatic fashion on “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”.

The title track has dynamic rock guitar riffs and a catchy guitar solo but everything keeps on flowing effortlessly and maintains the main romantic theme.

In the end, it is impossible not to enjoy listening to “Libertine” as it is a flawless collection of songs featuring one of the best female vocalists out there.

Katatonia -Dead End Kings

Without any doubt, Katatonia’s new album “Dead End Kings” arrives just in time to celebrate the traumatic end of summer. Therefore, instead of swimming cheerfully in the deep blue sea I find myself traveling through the dark abyss of the human soul during a chilly rainy day. Katatonia didn’t lose its touch, probably never will, and delivers an album incredibly mature in terms of songwriting and musical quality.

“The Parting” is an amazingly sour beginning. Melancholy and loneliness embrace each and every note. The progressive style guitar riffs are super clean and as strong as ever even if this is certainly not an aggressive tune.

“The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here” feels like a dark romantic anthem. The guitars are slow and soothing mixing prog and traditional rock styles, the vocals are dreamy yet powerful with the genuine addition of female vocals performed by Silje Wergeland from The Gathering.

“Undo You” has remnants of that romanticism scattered through the sweet keyboards layers, the tender arpeggios and the passionate vocals.

“Hypone” brings you comfort but it will inevitably leave you in the shadows with all those sorrows spinning in your head. Every guitar riff feels so luminous in Katatonia’s eternal darkness while Jonas Renkse’s vocals add nostalgic vibes to the main melody.

Jonas Renkse becomes a sorrowful desperate storyteller on “The Racing Heart” and when distortion takes over it becomes clear that there is no way out.

“Leech” and “Ambitions” are all about nostalgia and melancholy but never repetitive while the guitars work relentlessly to build groovy rhythms through the thick layers of darkness.

“Dead Letters” adds electronic accents to the atmospheric keyboards, raging guitar riffs and gentle vocals while the “dreams are getting darker and darker”.

Overall, “Dead End Kings” is an impeccable work of art that flows naturally like a daydream and you might easily find yourself listening to it in loop without even realizing it.

 

Dark Tranquillity – Zero Distance

Despite the fact that Dark Tranquillity’s music style has been often classified as melodic death metal, it is obvious that the band has successfully developed a very personal musical pathway that tends to cross multiple boundaries rendering any possible categorization quite useless. Even if it’s just an EP, as every other Dark Tranquillity’s release, “Zero Distance” showcases extraordinary musicianship, creative songwriting and amazing dedication.

The title track is an extremely pleasant catchy piece where strong guitar riffs are constantly adorned by loads of keyboards harmonies. The elegant guitar riffing has an immediate impact on the listeners. As always, Mikael Stanne’s vocals never disappoint and are exceptionally addictive on this song. In terms of songwriting style, this track embraces all the essential elements of the latest Dark Tranquillity’s musical evolution but there are also hints of the heavier style typical of the band’s earlier work.

On “Out Of Gravity” keyboards and synths play again a fundamental role bringing additional exquisite melodies. Niklas Sundin chooses an irresistible melodic approach for the lead guitar work while the solo is particularly rich and mature in terms of writing and technique.

“To Where Fires Cannot Feed” maintains a somber melodic theme even if the guitar riffs and the rhythm section display a heavier attitude. The synths continue to add a melodic flow that feels always natural and effortless. The guitar work is tremendously catchy but you should truly pay attention to the several stylistic details embedded in the riffing.

“The Bow And The Arrow” has the same melodic strength displayed on the title track. The powerful guitar riffs and the melancholic keyboards tunes are skillfully entwined to create a harmonious flow that feels very spontaneous. In terms of songwriting, this song fits the music core of “The Mind’s I” era rather than the more recent releases.

“Zero Distance” is the legit consequence of an ongoing musical evolution and a perfect fusion of rational musicianship and impulsive passion. This is definitely a must have for every Dark Tranquillity’s fan out there.

Swallow The Sun – Emerald Forest And The Blackbird

Swallow The Sun has definitely learned a lot from the glorious legacy of bands like My Dying Bride and Anathema. The latest release romantically entitled “Emerald Forest And The Blackbird” represents an agonizing journey in the deepest realm of dark/gothic metal.

The melodic structure of the title track clearly reminds of the painful decadence of “Turn Loose The Swans” by My Dying Bride and of the sorrowful romanticism of “The Silent Enigma” by Anathema. Yet, Swallow The Sun manages to bring its personal musical vision with fierce growls, super melodic guitars and elegant keyboards arrangement.

“This Cut Is The Deepest” and “Hearts Wide Shut” are slow paced tunes that focuse on smooth clean vocals layered over pleasantly nostalgic acoustic arpeggios with an undeniable poetic attitude.

“Cathedral Walls” is another super melancholic slow track that might not be considered extremely unique but it certainly delivers some enchanting dreamy melodies. Mikko Kotamaki’s clean vocals are particularly emotional and guest vocalist Anette Olzon from Nightwish delivers a pleasant performance.

“Hate, Lead The Way!” still maintains the somber atmospheric theme of the album but brings a more aggressive approach with well constructed melodic death metal elements in terms of both vocals and guitar riffing.

“Labyrinth Of London” relies on a traditional gothic metal musical core with the addition of excellent atmospheric keyboards. The screams are particularly strong and vicious and I love the sudden mood change in the heartfelt duet with guest vocalist Aleah Stanbridge. Obviously, the reading of “London” by William Blake over a lengthy gloomy guitar solo renders everything more mysterious and attractive.

“Of Death And Corruption” is a classically emotional track featuring elements of traditional doom and the perennial obscurity of gothic metal riffing style.  Despite the aggressive attitude and the dominating growls, this track has a sort of catchy vibe that creates an immediate impact in the listener.

Certainly, Swallow The Sun delivers a mature work of music but at times the songwriting is deprived of originality due to the band’s evident musical influences. Nevertheless, “Emerald Forest And The Blackbird” embodies a serious musical effort and is an appropriate musical choice for the Autumn season.

Therion – Les Fleurs Du Mal

Mastermind Christofer Johnsson needed something truly special to celebrate Therion’s 25th anniversary rather than a boring greatest hits album. Despite the fact that many will think that a collection of covers of old French pop chansons might be an odd choice, the release of “Les Fleurs Du Mal” is an extremely exciting choice. Because this album will be controversial regardless of its incredible musical quality, the connection with Baudelaire’s notoriously forbidden poem seems appropriate. Considering how the metal scene tends to have stubborn and redundant musical boundaries, it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to listen to something completely different.

While the main melodies of the original songs are perfectly recognizable, Therion delivers a very personal interpretation in symphonic/gothic metal style.

“Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son” (available in two versions) has a very energetic rhythm and a memorable melody emphasized by a majestic symphonic approach. Of course, Lori Lewis’s flawless performance is the main focus here and on several other tracks such as the decadently sweet “Soer Angelique”.

“Une Fleur Dans Le Coeur” is a semi ballad with a more dramatic approach and melancholic orchestrations.

“Initials BB” is simply addictive with intriguing sexy vocals and an intense French poetic attitude. There is a goth rock atmosphere but also a constant groove that makes this track very danceable.

“Mon Amour, Mon Ami” is a bittersweet romantic melodic piece. The vocals, particularly dramatic towards the end, are fundamental to fully express the gloomy feelings and enrich the vibrant guitar melodies.

“Polichinelle”, “La Maritza” and “Wahala Manitou” have a delicious unmistakably French retro sound that naturally embraces Therion’s symphonic style.

“Dis-moi Poupee” is a very attractive guitar driven tune that shines for Snowy Shaw’s irresistible obscure vocal performance and solemn operatic choirs.

Thomas Vikstrom is one of the most amazing and eclectic vocalist out there and his undeniable talent is consistent throughout the album.  On the hyper energetic fun rock n’ roll short song “Je N’ai Besoin Que De Tendresse”, Vikstrom delivers wild high pitch vocals. Yet, “J’ai Le mal De Toi” definitely represents his best performance. This must be saddest song ever written and Vikstrom’s deeply passionate theatrical interpretation is absolutely faultless.

“Lilith” is the one song that truly has a dark gothic melody as main musical core. Lori Lewis’s operatic vocal style perfectly fits the decadent mood.

In the end, Therion successfully manages to interpret vintage music in a contemporary fashion and “Les Fleurs Du Mal” feels like a very spontaneous well balanced album. Each and every song has its own raison d’etre and will be easily enjoyed by open minded libertine listeners.

 

The Gathering – Disclosure

On The Gathering’s new album “Disclosure” you really won’t find much metal or goth. It seems that with “Disclosure” the Dutch band has finally achieved a brand new musical identity which has developed gradually and spontaneously after the departure of the iconic vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen. Since it is the product of a drastic musical evolution, “Disclosure” brings an overload of style changes that are inevitably distant from the band’s musical past.

“Paper Waves” represents well the floating mood of the entire album. In terms of music style, The Gathering decides to dwell in the realm of alternative rock with the aid of electronically generated tunes. This song, like all the others on this album, relies on mellow radio friendly melodies. The guitar work is never dominant and is based on an array of ethereal sounds almost buried under the keyboards and synths arrangement.

“Meltdown” has a very modern electronic approach with a more interesting and dynamic rhythm.  The vocals are extremely catchy both in the duet and the chorus, the rhythmic section is still slow paced and on the soft side but the atmosphere is dominated by a great positive energy.

“Heroes For Ghosts” is a lengthy track that has an exquisite darkly romantic atmosphere highly enriched by soothing keyboard layers, ultra melodic strings and unexpected brass horns. On this song, the new vocalist Silje Wergeland delivers an intensely passionate performance that perfectly enhances the dreamy and charming soundscape deliciously supported by an emotional guitar groove.

On “Paralyzed” and “Missing Seasons” both the vocals and the rhythm showcase the softest side of the album’s musical core. Piano and keyboards are extremely dominant and blend naturally in a fashion that reminds of Tori Amos and Portishead.

“Gemini I” instead has a more intense rock attitude with some scratchy guitars even if everything is softened by a trance/ambience atmosphere. “Gemini II” revolves entirely around Silje Wergeland’s extraordinary vocal abilities and is the most ethereal song of the album.

Overall, “Disclosure” is a very accessible album filled with relaxing atmospheres and effortless melodies. Yet, those who are familiar with The Gathering’s early musical work might not feel comfortable with the extreme style change featured on this album.