Angtoria – God Has A Plan For Us All

01/09/2006 § Leave a comment

God Has A Plan For Us All is a significant album title in a genre that doesn’t really ooze imagination, not lyrically anyway. A lot of time albums end up with silly titles such as Emoceans or Consign To Oblivion so it’s nice to know that Angtoria have put a little bit of thought into the way that their debut comes across. And so they should since this thing’s been a while in the making. Angtoria released two demos, the first of which came out three years ago and since then it’s been a little tricky for them to get everything together, not least because their singer lives in Kent [near Sevenoaks if you must know] and their other two formative members, Tommy and Chris Rein, live in Sweden. Not an ideal combination you might argue, but in these times when the information superhighway is about as overused as the word ‘Angel’ in a Nightwish song, it’s more than possible for a Gothic metal band to have their members dotted about all over Europe, though I hate to think what kind of hell that would put them in if they tried to play live.

But is Angtoria a Gothic metal band anyway? We seem to be approaching a stage where the terms ‘Gothic metal’ or even ‘femme metal’ carry negative connotations for a lot of ‘serious’ bands, maybe because the idea of either conjures up images of mutable fads and ephemeral fanships. And this is hardly surprising because the singer in the band, Sarah Jezebel Diva, has spent twelve years doing vocals for Cradle Of Filth, so it’s understandable that she may consider herself as coming from a more established background. However, like it or not, Angtoria very much are a femme and Gothic metal band since their style is in the vein of artists such as Penumbra, Epica and Flowing Tears.

The individual songs on GHAPFUA are of a relatively high standard, the title track telling the story of a small girl who is abused by her priest [“God has a plan for us all, open up for him and let Jesus in” – nice], the tune being helped along nicely by some simple solos and impressive instrumentation. Suicide On My Mind, Deity Of Disgust and Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned are the most impressive of the bunch, the latter’s intro being extremely full and effective and one of the best that I’ve heard in this style. What Angtoria succeed at very well is making their music likeable through symphonic simplicity. God Has A Plan is quite easy to come back to time and time again and though it’s not really a very heavy album overall, fans of the band are likely to come from both the male and female-fronted metal camps due to Sarah‘s background.

The album is not quite consistent however, since even though it does very well to keep up its effect and pace for the first half of its duration, it does collapse in the middle like a quiche left out in a picnic for too long. Songs like Original Sin with its metal growls, Do You See Me Now with its ‘strong independent woman’ message, and The Addiction which sounds like a cast-off from the Titanic soundtrack don’t do very much to make GHAPFUA a total success. Indeed, some of the songs do suffer from the affliction of Six Feet Under’s Not Deep Enough inasmuch as the verses are quite good but the band seems to have totally lost any idea of how to follow through, and as a result there are quite a few annoying choruses which will have some listeners reaching for the skip button and even holding it down for a few seconds. The band’s only cover, being of Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me is surprisingly good though – and miles better than the original – which is unusual since metal covers of pop songs are usually atrociously embarrassing.

If anything though, God Has A Plan has benefited from the time that was taken over it, since if it were rushed there’s a strong likelihood it could have become a disappointing effort at a bombastic metal album when it actually accomplishes what it sets out to do rather well. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to wait another few years for their next album, my only concern being that now the band has two Cradle Of Filth members to fill up the ranks it could turn into a bit of a Leaves’ Eyes syndrome with Angtoria playing second fiddle to the COF members’ main interests, resulting in hurried albums and poorly constructed songs while the singer tries to keep the ship afloat. However, it’s still a worthy debut and deserves a generous amount of attention and respect, though its lasting appeal may hang somewhat precariously in the balance.

7.5/10

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