SUMMARY: An excellent Doom record from Draconian.
Doom metal, my flavor of the week. Upon my growing interest in the Doom genre, a friend of mine introduced me to a Swedish band by the name Draconian. I checked them out and the first track I listened to ‘Heaven Laid In Tears (Angel’s Lament)’ bought me over, I immediately downloaded their discography and listened to each album one after the other, this particular one ‘Arcane Rain Fell’ caught my attention. Early in their career they played Melodic Death Metal with some Black Metal traces back when their name was Kerberos, later changing the name to Draconian with the key addition of main vocalist and lyricist, Anders Jacobsson. They had been at fault with the production of some of their early albums and drastically decided to shift their sounds cape into something slower and more dramatic yet still crushing and epic. So they abandoned their roots and expanded beyond the constraints of Doom and added Gothic elements to their music.
In 2004, Draconian released their album “Arcane Rain Fell” which expanded upon the ideas of the previous album, “Where Lovers Mourn” and took it to a new extreme. Their current sound recalls of elements from some of the genre’s elite, My Dying Bride, Anathema, as well as some of the new wave’s finest such as Swallow The Sun. They took those ideas with some fresh ones to create a refreshing sound filled with atmospheric keyboard runs, crushing riffs outlining the melodies, and deep harsh growls complementing the vocal talents of Lisa Johansson. Originality might be a little thin but Draconian execute this formula pretty well into quite an enjoyable listening pleasure.
“A Scenery of Loss” opens the album with a serene and peaceful ambiance of rain starting to fall. Thunder begins to crash and slow guitars begin to grind as a spoken passage greets the listener before delving into the eye of the storm. The song promptly ends that way as well with a haunting piano run and rain closing out the last seconds. The guitar work is standard fare for Doom but played pretty well in between balancing the slow paced melodies with the rhythm guitar chipping away the surface with hard edged riffs. The lead guitar and the rhythm guitar on this album was played by Johan although credit is given to Magnus Bergstrom. Nonetheless, Johan is great with the guitar work. This is Doom so don’t expect any insane, technical riffs. The keyboard work is just as impressive as the vocals themselves due to playing a vital role in the band. Andreas excels in painting a dark, brooding sounds cape for the music with haunting, dramatic runs that covers the basic instrumentation with a dark veil.
Draconian has two primary vocalists providing the bulk of the work. Anders provides all the harsh vocals and not often but occasionally sings as well. Balancing the heavy with the soft we have a fairly strong and underrated singer in Lisa Johansson. Her strong angel like crooning greatly benefit’s this style of music with the variety of vocal styles that are present here, without overshadowing the music in the process. “Heaven Laid In Tears (Angels Lament)” is a great example. Anders retains the deep, crisp growls akin to Death Metal for most of the album but at times switches to a higher register although nowhere near Black Metal levels. Occasionally he sings but not for long. His voice isn’t that bad, in fact it should have been utilized more. The lyrical content touches nothing new and seems to stem towards misery and Satan being true while God is being portrayed as the false saint. The lyrics are being delivered with thought out planning and intelligence where I can forgive the cheese that they speak of. In fact, some of the lyrics come straight out of John Milton’s poem “Paradise Lost” dealing with the banishment from Eden and the fall of the human race. The lyrics might be depressing and morbid to most but I find myself curious in listening to what is being said. Unfortunately, Draconian felt the need to add spoken passages to the music thinking it would be a vital piece of the puzzle. “Expostulation” is 2 minutes of unnecessary and ridiculous cheese that should be skipped. Other than that, the vocals are pretty solid. The album redeems itself with the 15 minute epic closer “Death, Come Near Me” making up for that slight fault by encompassing all of their traits into one monster of a song.
The drum work is pretty good if not generic for this style of music. It’s not bad by any means, Jerry is technically proficient at what he does, but he just sticks to the basic template. There are some cool double bass patterns here and there, then the occasional fill to loosen things up. Bass work has it’s high marks and it’s low marks. A lot of the time it is being drowned out from the rest but in certain moments, the bass stands out with some pretty cool lines. The production on this album captures the Doom essence of Draconian well. Everything is crisp and the vocals as well as the instruments are pretty clear. Vocals stand out without magnifying over the rest of the instruments, guitars are loud and present, drums are clear and the bass makes itself present quite often. Fans of any style of Metal should give this a run. Originality might be lacking but this is still a strong outing for a rather new Doom Metal unit who’s actually been around since 1994 but just made the change recently. Might not be ground breaking but remember this, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.
” Death, Come Near Me”.
” Heaven Laid In Tears(Angels Lament)”