Draconian, "Turning Season Within"
Draconian are a gothic, doom, death band and this is their fourth full-length album. Over the years, female vocals have become more prominent to the point that they've gone from supportive atmosphere to starring role. Lisa Johansson takes center stage with her mournful, dreamy, clean vocals almost as often as growler Anders Jacobsson does. Over the course of the CD, guest Paul Kuhr tosses in spoken-word, embittered "poetry" (either you like this sort of thing or it makes your skin crawl) while Lisa sticks to a signature melancholy crooning. Both vocalists are good at what they do, and they fit the music to a proverbial "t".
The frequent use of duets is an interesting aspect Draconian's sound and one that probably makes financial sense in this day and age. "Beauty and the Beast" metal is old hat by now, but this group has been at it quite awhile, so it's not like they're jumping on the bandwagon (although they're certainly trying to push the driver off and grab the reins with their recent efforts). While the band's sound cannot be described as being particularly "commercial", they have made efforts to strip down their style and present it in a format that is more akin to the stuff we see on MTV. However, song lengths are still long enough to maintain their doom cred and probably ensure a lack of airplay on MTV (at least in the USA).
Musically it's typical deathly doom with gigantic pounding drums and driving guitars. Power chords dominate while eerie single-note guitar melody lines create the gloomy atmosphere. Comparisons to Opeth are unavoidable in this regard - so I just made it. Piano is featured from time to time, as you might expect, as are hints of synthesized strings (although it's not as prevalent as many bands in these genres utilize). This is not a musician's band, Draconian do nothing to impress the listener with flashy fretwork - there is nothing technical about their playing, but it certainly creates the proper mood for this style of metal (can the listener truly feel sorrowful if the music inspires toe-tapping or jaw-dropping? Methinks not). So if you're in that "I hate my ex-girlfriend but I still love her" mood and still want to listen to some classic metal stylings, Draconian is well worth seeking out.
So that's the good news. The bad news is I've got one of those damned beeping promos that butts into the music every two minutes to remind me what album I'm listening to. This utterly destroys my ability to lose myself in this record, and hence, there is no way I can pick four favorite tracks. Deathly, gothic doom is all about the vibe, and this beeping promo crushes that under its heal and grinds it into dust. It puts me in a "I hate labels but still love bands" mood. C'est la vie, my loves - c'est la vie.D.Berger