Draconian- A Rose for the Apocalypse

by Mat
Categories: Reviews
Comments: No Comments
Published on: July 16, 2011

When Draconian’s 2008’s opus Turning Season Within appeared on our streets, there was a collective sense of breath being drawn in. On one side of the fence sat the goth adherents, aghast that the band they had come to love and revere had sold out by creating a more mainstream album, still lush and ripe with the tenets of their oeuvre but now with an added sense of drama and melody that they felt had the band veering precariously close to the Within Temptation brigade. On the other side, there were those- like me- who thought this was very much welcome: who said that melody and true romance should not be part of the gothic and doom metal tradition?

Anyway, it looks like I’m in the minority. So do the band. Although A Rose for the Apocaplypse is no venture into grindcore- it’s a Draconian record after all- this is a marked return to the bleak and forlorn soundscapes through which the band made their name and through which they appear to want to consolidate a rabid fan base. You can hear the sighs of relief everywhere. So is it any good? Oh, yes, its very, very good.

“The Drowning Age” kicks things off brilliantly. It’s one of those songs that, within its grooves, has that “did you ever really doubt us?” statement of belligerent intent. It’s a great start to the record, laying down its tone and rhythm with ridiculously easy aplomb.

It’s no false dawn either. Elsewhere on the record, Lisa’s vocals have been stretched and tested like never before- it’s a test she passes with flying colours. On Elysian Night for example, there is an understated power to her vocal, an ease with which she handles the haunting melody that you just have to sit back, admire and wallow in the gloom.

The rest of the band are, as you’d expect, as solid, proficient and punchy as ever. Johan Ericson and Daniel Arvidsson’s guitar playing, in particular, are worthy of singling out. Too often we give credit to the shredder for simple speed or flair; more rarely do we credit players who can create a sense of mood, menace or oppression. Let’s change that now- you won’t hear many more depressive riffs this year than on The Drowning Age or Phantom Dissonance. As you’ve probably guessed, I think this is a very good thing indeed.

One of the things that I have always admired about Draconian is their unerring ability to pull together epic after epic of unremitting doom. Their world is not a happy or pretty one but it is a damn compelling one and, like Paradise Lost, they seem to have the knack for pulling off choice cut after choice cut. A Rose for the Apocalypse may well be a bleaker record than its predecessor but it is no less inferior: the band have found a furrow and they are ploughing it hard and well. This is a record that is deeply doomy and deeply unhappy. You’re going to love it.

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