Draconian – Sovran Review
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Doom Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Gothic Metal
Release Date: October 30, 2015
Draconian is a goth inspired death/doom band from Säffle, Sweden whose big, theatric sound has attracted a decent sized fanbase since their beginnings in 1994. Although they’ve been on the scene for over 20 years now, the band’s discography is limited to only six albums: “Where Lovers Mourn”, “Arcane Rain Fell”, “The Burning Halo”, “Turning Seasons Within”, “ A Rose For The Apocalypse” and their latest output “Sovran”. Despite this lack of recorded material, the group has managed to maintain their success with consistent products and expansive touring. In 2011, their long-time female vocalist Lisa Johansson left the group after seven years leaving a big gap within the group. After earning her wings on tour, Heike Langhans has proven herself a worthy replacement for Johansson but was yet to make a full length album with Draconian before “Sovran”, making this album highly anticipated by fans and critics alike.
Personally I’ve always enjoyed the bands work and have seen a steady improvement in them with every album. They always find the perfect blend of beauty and despair switching back and forth between angelic female voices and low death metal growls. The way the two compliment each other is thought provoking and strangely beautiful, almost like the dialogue of a well-crafted play. Langhans’ addition into this dynamic is very successful and in many ways better than her predecessor Johansson. Langhans’ voice has a very delicate, beautiful quality that seems to compliment her surroundings perfectly. Musically the album is nothing short of breath-taking with it’s tasteful use of effects, good use of dynamics and masterful playing. The guitar quickly switches from C tuned riffs to soft melodic picking while the drums bash away with a passionate precision. The bass on this album is almost nonexistent and although it can a glaring omission, for the most part I can tolerate it. Being a bass player, I love hearing lots of bass in my music because I think it tends to help things pop. Almost like a heartbeat to accompany the rhythm and the melody. But in this case there were lots of guitar overdubs that filled the space nicely with both high and low registers, making little room for bass.
The songs themselves are hard to split up and critique separately due to the band’s painter-like approach to assembling the album. Instead of having song after song, the band just seems to add layers over layers creating a complex work of art. With that being said there are some parts of this piece that need to be addressed, one of which is a single called “Rivers Between Us” featuring Daniel Änghede. Although the song is decent, it was an odd choice for a single. It’s very slow and ballad-like in a cliche type of way. The overall feeling is lackluster, especially when compared to the other songs on the album. In contrast, the other single off the album, “Stellar Tombs”, was a perfect choice with it’s catchy guitar leads and driving drum beat. It’s about as close to a traditional single as this band gets.
Technically speaking, I would have liked to have seen a better mix on this album. Although I’m not normally picky about these things, I felt the guitars were a little to loud in comparison to the other instruments. The drums sounded a little too muted and the bass was hard to pick apart at times. The album lends itself to a more spacious recording as well but with all that being said, plenty of great albums have been made with subpar mixes and suffered little to nothing. In the end complaining about mixes is just nitpicking, what it really comes down to is how good the music is written and executed which in this case is exceptional. In fact this is among my favorite albums of the year and is definitely contending for my top spot. Just an overall solid release with everything I love about Draconian in it.
1.Heavy Lies the Crown
2.The Wretched Tide
3.Pale Tortured Blue
5.No Lonelier Star
8.The Marriage of Attaris
9.With Love and Defiance (Bonus Track)
Total Playing Time: 65:29