Originally written by Erik Thomas
Tearful and melancholy Gothic Death/doom metal is the order of the day for Sweden’s Draconian, and while by no means original, fans of Theatre of Tragedy, Tristania, Sins of Thy Beloved should get their mope-on for this debut album.
Although not full on Goth or Doom, their mix of crawling emotive riffs, black/death metal vocals and female operatics and atmospheric synths make for a decent compromise between head bowing sadness and candlelight romantics. A look at the song titles gives away the overall theme: “The Cry of Silence”, “The Solitude”, “It Grieves My Heart”, as Draconian’s dark agenda, despite frequently being dressed up in theatrical Gothic overtones, is purely depressive. The presence of cutie pie female crooner Lisa Johansson and the odd upbeat paced moment does often give Draconian that Theatre of Tragedy/Thalarion mix, but from track to track, Draconian are less about pomp and woeful cheese, but a more strident doom gait. The difference in their sonic posture is no more obvious than the first 2 tracks. While 12 minute opener “The Cry of Silence” lumbers with an almost My Dying Bride-like, oppressively despondent pace, “Silent Winter” bounces along with haughty ivory tinkering and somewhat overblown theatrics. When treading more familiar and accepted Gothic metal territory, Draconian are competent, but don’t really rise above the pack. However, when they deliver a more rending, doom laden, hopelessly melodic style as heard on “A Slumber Did My Spirit Steal”, they have far more unique personality. Growler Anders Jacobsson is adequate as the beast to Lisa Johansson’s beauty, as when singing together it never lulls into a cheesy metal duo, rather two forceful emotions conflicting.
The odd violin insertion further enhances the classic doom visage, and when it’s used during the virtually tear inducing “The Solitude” along with the vastly disheartening main riff, its effect is tangibly saddening. Album closer “It Grieves my Heart”, ends the album with a suitably morose climax, including a nice orchestral refrain. Where Lovers Mourn isn’t perfect, as “The Amaranth” and its peppiness stands out like a Goth chick in a Sorority house and the brief Johansson/acoustic only “Akherousia”, while enjoyable for its folky charm, just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album’s overall feel and it uses the Gothic metal no-no of whispered vampiric vocals. Also the production doesn’t seem as lush as other similarly styled Napalm releases (Elis, Tristania, etc).
As with virtually all albums of this style, the songs are lengthy and require a good deal of attention, maybe a roaring fireplace and a castle. However, a dark basement and a couple of sleeping pills should allow you to fully appreciate this album’s lugubrious charms. Not a ‘great’ album by any means, but a decent debut and entry into the genre.