Saturday, July 2, 2005

Review: Lamia Tenebrae - Inquisition (2004)

Lamia Tenebrae

Lamia Tenebrae is a band that is hard to categorize, given that their debut album Inquisition incorporates a considerable number of musical traits and styles. The French trio that is Lamia Tenebrae count Type O Negative, Rob Zombie, and Coal Chamber among their influences but I can make only slight comparisons to Type O's song writing style and Rob Zombie's "horror movie" atmospheres. Lamia Tenebrae instead has more in common with the Dark Wave bands of the late '80s and early '90s than the Gothic metal of today.

The most prominent element to the band's sound is the voice of exotic frontwoman Lamia. Her heavily accented delivery style will not appeal to everyone, for sure, but there is an alluring quality to the punkish way she lays down the lyrics in true Riot Grrrl style. Liked or not, Lamia's vocals are distinctly up in the mix and dominate each track. In addition to singing, Lamia also plays the keys and provides the programming for the drum machine. It is through her keyboard passages that Inquisition displays a bit of Gothic atmosphere, most significantly on the track "Drakul". At other times, her soundscapes lend a bit of an industrial edge to the music.

I found the guitars to be a bit buried in the mix. Having them play a more distinctive role would have enhanced the metallic qualities of the album, though there are times where the guitar sounds adequately accomplish the task. "No More Lies" is, for instance, the heaviest track on the album and by far the most appealing to metal fans. A bit of a sci-fi intro from Lamia's keys gives way to crunchy, driving riffs from Druid and Fabrice. Druid lays down a sinister solo, capturing the mood of the music perfectly. As the lead guitarist, he lets loose with a solo on every track but tends to be a little unfocused and somewhat meandering. While perhaps distracting to some, his innovative style may appeal to some fans of more progressive styles of metal.

Inquisition is an interesting, if eccentric, album that shows a band melding several style influences into a work that not only reflects on their inspirations but pushes the envelope of familiarity. With a little more refinement of their songwriting process, and perhaps a full-time drummer, future works from Lamia Tenebrae promise to border on groundbreaking. As an aside, the band recently changed their name to Lamia Cross.

Track Listing
1 Inquisition 5:34
2 Ashra 5:20
3 Lamia 5:26
4 No More Lies 4:12
5 Drakul 5:14
6 Space Vampire 5:33
7 The Cage 4:43
8 Fake 3:18

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