A romantic darkness in the form of doom/death with a gothic touch is the best way I can sum up DRACONIAN, a rather unique Swedish band who’ll be releasing its 7th full-length album, “Under a Godless Veil” on October 31st through Napalm Records. The fans have been waiting five years for the record and after the stunning album that was “Sovran” everyone’s expectations for DRACONIAN are very high.
A characteristic softness opens the album, lead by Heike Langhans’s enchanting voice. I firmly believe she has the most beautiful cleans in metal, so you might notice I talk about her vocals a lot. The first two tracks on the album, “Sorrow of Sophia” and “The Sacrificial Flame” follow the fairly typical pattern of interchanging cleans from Langhans and the band’s other vocalist, Anders Jacobsson, who takes care of the harsh vocals, or the death part of the death/doom, if you will. Unfortunately, something is just missing with these tracks, especially with the album’s opener, “Sorrow of Sophia,” which does not fully give off that DRACONIAN melancholic feeling that “Sovran” had throughout the album. “The Sacrificial Flame,” however, does invoke more of that in the second half, and I could almost say it’s where the album properly begins and escapes its overly dreary beginning.
“Lustrous Heart” is solid for the most part, although a bit slow at some parts, which is fine since it is meant to be doomy, but it does somewhat interrupt the flow of the song, which grabs you with the few lines that Langhans delivers oh so alluringly and Jacobsson’s rhythmic delivery in the bridge. Instrumentally, the guitars provide some interesting patterns and aid the overall feeling of melancholy, while the lyricism deserves a mention as it is very good.
Both vocalists joining their voices on “Sleepwalkers” captures everything DRACONIAN should be. It’s oozing romance, with a feeling of overwhelming sadness – which, as we surely know, is the best kind of romance. The keyboards help with the feeling of being alone in a dark night with nothing but the stars on the sky following you. Naked and sleepwalking. Continuing the theme of space is “Moon Over Sabaoth,” another one of the singles from the album, in which I do miss more of Langhans, as Jacobsson takes the reigns, although to be fair, his deep harsh growls work very well together with the lovely guitar work.
A soft interlude in the form of “Burial Fields” features a conversation between Sophia and Christos, two characters in this album’s story. Following this, “The Sethian” actually features some of the most aggressive bits on the album, but it also sadly has these odd, muffled vocal parts that just don’t seem to fit into the song very well. Besides that though, it’s one of the best tracks on the album, and it manages to rise in intensity throughout its 7 minute run-time.
One of the album’s most beautiful stories is the penultimate “Night Visitor,” a lovely and soothing track that finishes with an awesome guitar solo. “Under a Godless Veil” concludes with probably the most complex song, the 9-minute-long behemoth, “Ascend Into Darkness,” which manages to encapsulate DRACONIAN as a band very well in its sorrowful, melancholic, yet endlessly beautiful form.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this album. It’s quite solid, but after “Sovran” I did expect more. “Under a Godless Veil” is a slight step back for DRACONIAN, but it’s still a really good album full of pain, darkness, and romance, which might take you a few listens to fully appreciate as most quality albums do. The lyricism is especially great and the instrumentation is solid throughout, but I do wish there was a bit more fluency in the songs.
Written by Didrik M.
- Sorrow of Sophia
- The Sacrificial Flame
- Lustrous Heart
- Moon Over Sabaoth
- Burial Fields
- The Sethian
- Claw Marks on the Throne
- Night Visitor
- Ascend Into Darkness
Anders Jacobsson – vocals
Heike Langhans – vocals
Johan Ericsson – guitar
Daniel Arvidsson – guitar
Jerry Torstensson – drums
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”