Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Draconian - A Rose for the Apocalypse (2011)

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A Rose for the Apocalypse

Sweden's Draconian is a band whose style is firmly entrenched in the Gothic doom/death sound pioneered by such luminaries as Theatre of Tragedy, The Gathering, and Paradise Lost. Somber riffs, deliberate pacing, and enticingly depressive keyboard accents are the core ingredients with which the band creates their dark and melancholic music. Though some may scoff at yet another outfit championing a style that arguably peaked a decade ago, A Rose for the Apocalypse - Draconian's fifth full-length album - will not only enrapture doom/death aficionados (and there are still some around, myself among them) but will also win over fans of more contemporary doom.

The album is, above all else, a fine example of Gothic doom/death in the traditional sense. Tracks such as "The Drowning Age" and "End of the Rope" are built upon familiar, chugging riff patterns while the requisite melancholy violin and cello can be heard on "The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight" and "Dead World Assembly". The vocal team of Anders Jacobsson and Lisa Johansson work the "Beauty and the Beast" style to perfection, each delivering a powerful performance enhanced only by the ideal way they compliment one another. Gruff and gritty, Jacobsson nevertheless enunciates the lyrics quite well and occasionally ventures into clean, spoken word passages that add a just touch more darkness to the overall mood. Johansson's talent is right on par with genre notables Liv Kristine and Anneke van Giersbergen, lending an ethereal yet saddened element to the band's sound. Though she delivers at a high level throughout A Rose for the Apocalypse, "Elysian Night" is the track where her performance - nicely effected - leaves the most lasting impression and is definitely an album highlight (and also features a verse from Keats' Ode to a Nightmare).

For fans of a more immediate sound, Draconian offers plenty of modern rock-oriented riffs on tracks such as "Deadlight" and "A Phantom Dissonance". Not as impactful as the more traditional songs on the album, they are nevertheless well-written and executed and serve nicely as a means of broadening the appeal of A Rose for the Apocalypse.

Draconian has served up yet another album that fans of the Gothic doom/death style, be they rabid or merely casual, should strive to add to their collections. From the enrapturing groove of "End of the Rope" to the hopelessness of "Wall of Sighs", A Rose for the Apocalypse is a worthy addition to the genre.

Track Listing
1The Drowning Age7:20
2The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight5:28
3End of the Rope6:35
4Elysian Night7:53
6Dead World Assembly5:53
7A Phantom Dissonance5:40
8The Quiet Storm6:38
9The Death of Hours7:50
10Wall of Sighs5:15
Total Runtime1:05:06

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