I hate to admit this is a school of thought but on paper, you could be forgiven for being put off by Draconian. European metal band playing kinda-gothy-kinda-doomy-yet-melodic metal, with a growling male singer and a female with a ‘pretty’ voice. You know what I mean, without doubt you do. You only have to have a shred of cool to understand where I am coming from. Although perhaps not from the heavier end, bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Amaranthe are to blame. They’re terrible and I really don’t have any understanding or musical respect for the people that enjoy that guff.
Thankfully, Draconian aren’t cheesy or cringe-inducing at all like those listed above and many other also-rans that are all over Europe. Draconian come over on ‘Sovran’ as a cross between early Lacuna Coil crossed with My Dying Bride and a healthy dose of Paradise lost and Insomnium. If that sounds too good to be true then you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Each and every song on ‘Sovran’ stands alone in its brilliance and beauty. Not once did I tire of any moment here, even after a dozen listens. This is the first release to feature new female vocalist Heike Langhans, and as this is my first foray into the music of Draconian, I cannot give a comparison to the off-signing Lisa Johansen. What I can say is that rather than being an operatic warbler or just merely a well trained but insincere voice, Langhan’s has a haunting quality that really seems to emote in the way Cristina Scabbia’s did on ‘Unleashed Memories’, without sounding similar. In a sea of melancholic and broken hearted sounding female singers, Langhans is an absolute treasure and sounds like the real deal. The kind of voice where you fall in love with her before even seeing her physical form.
In brilliantly effective contrast, co-vocalist, Anders Jacobssen is powerful and brutal. He could easily fit in a more punishing and less melodic band, so good are his Death Metal stylings. As guttural as he is, he also manages to somehow put some yearning and feeling of loss in his voice. Perhaps this stems from the fact that these lyrics are his as they have been from the very beginning. I am fascinated by his writing and find them to be on the right side of poetic without coming close to being trite or insincere. The majority of his writings, on this record at least, are without doubt love songs. Yearning, mournful and desperate sonnets to love gone bad, yet are dark and cold enough to fit the music and remain, above all, very metal!
Guitars intertwine, overlap and like the vine of a rose bush, slowly creeping around your heart and soul and puncture your consciousness. Sometimes they will undulate and dip between sadness and mystery like Gregor Mackintosh of Paradise Lost has perfected, and other time they will chop and mock your misery like a Katatonia or My Dying Bride composition. Synths swirl around in the background adding to the drama but never trying to steal the spotlight. Sparing use of a violin in a track or two does the same, to wonderful effect.
Based on falling in love with ‘Sovran’, I will be going back through their discography and have even looked into what merchandise they have so I can proudly wear the bands name, I’d say those admissions alone tell you how good this is. Also, if you buy this record (which of course you will, wont you?) then try and get the version with the bonus track, ‘With Love and Defiance’ because it is awesome.
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