Draconian – Where Lovers Mourn
31/03/2005 § Leave a comment
The BnB genre is a place for wannabes and imposters. It is a court for those with delusions of musical grandeur to frolic in, to experiment with the sounds of their predecessors, and to come up with something that sounds clichéd and overdone. Very few bands in BnB dare to do anything too progressive, and unfortunately Draconian aren’t one of them. However, one thing that Draconian do tend to do well is to go on about how damned depressed they are. In fact, anyone that makes too much of a point of something ends up being rather unconvincing, and I don’t believe that Anders et al really want to flap about in their own misery any more than I want to hear lines like, I have a thousand reasons to die/and many millions of tears to cry. If you’re really that depressed about things, just terminate your miserable existence and don’t whinge about everything. Or maybe sell a few more albums and then do it.
Still, there’s nothing on Where Lovers Mourn that is going to stir the dead in their graves, but on the whole it’s not a bad album. Sure, they really exploit the point that they would rather be collectively hanging themselves from the rafters than growling another microtone, but if you strip away the pretentiousness, you end up with quite a decent piece of BnB. Not only this, but some of the tracks on the album are not only nicely written and put together, but the quality of the sound production really does the music justice.
The album starts off with The Cry Of Silence, which is one of the best BnB tracks I have ever heard. I absolutely adore the strength of Anders’voice and though the song bobs along at an almost lento pace for about five minutes, when it speeds up, it’s a real pleasure, then dipping down again before the final runaway crescendo. What such a good opening number does for the album is to create a precedent and a prescience, showing us that there will be other moments on the album when we will all be feeling just a little bored by the slothful gait of some of the numbers and at other times riveted by their momentum. It’s all very well for the odd black metal number to be plodding and slow, but I did catch myself nodding off quite frequently in some of the later numbers here. Fortunately there are good songs like Silent Winter, which bounces along at a nice pace with some beautiful choruses and a helter-skelter of chromatics round the midsection. Lisa Johanssen has a good voice to really carry the higher notes, and thankfully, though it has choral elements to it, it’s not too squeaky or warbly, which is just as well, because I’m really starting to get fed up with ‘operatic’ Gothic Metal vocalists who probably think that Opera is only a web browser and that an ‘aria’ is a nice part of town where middle-class people come from.
Silent Winter, unfortunately, cannot save us all from the dirgefest to follow, and songs like Solitude and Reversio Ad Secussen do very little for the album apart from drag its tone further into some kind of musical bog. I’m aware that this stuff is supposed to be depressing, but if I were thinking of committing suicide and I was listening to these tracks at the time, I’d be too bored to do it. Nevertheless, it does get a little bit better later on, The Amaranth being another goodie, though the version on the demo was way better before Napalm got their hands on it. The guitar is so full-on and crunchy that it sounds a little tuneless and that Johan is actually attempting to start his car in the background rather than play power chords. There is also the gesture acoustic number Akherousin, which plays perfectly well apart from the fact that the violin playing sounds like a cat high on catnip battering a squeaky mouse, and then there’s the finale, It Grieves My Heart, which is one of the better and more interesting tracks. If this track had been included earlier in the album it would have provided a glimmer of hope against the dull opacity of the gloomier numbers, though by the end of the album it’s hard to be too enthusiastic about it.
Where Lovers Mourn is by no means a bad peace of work. This is the sound of a bad who obviously have found their musical niche and it’s going to be difficult to see if they’ll ever veer off this trajectory. The amount of time they have been around before Where Lovers Mourn shows a strong willingness and forceful direction, so it’s a shame that this, for all intents and purposes, their debut, falls flat on a number of levels. The main problem is that a lot of the songs are too similar, and not only that, but sometimes they trudge along at the same slow pace for too often. This hardly instils the listener with a sense of awe and excitement, but nor is it meant to, though I don’t think Draconian’s intention in writing the slower numbers was to make their listeners get so low that they want to catch forty winks. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to respect the power and the dark beauty of some of the songs here, and they really show talent and promise in an otherwise incentiveless and monotonous subgenre. Draconian are capable of capturing the dark atmosphere that a lot of Gothic Metal misses out on, and for this they should be commended. With the right amount of work Draconian could fly the flag for a new era of quality BnB, though with this album they didn’t quite reach the bar enough to raise it.