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Draconian : Where Lovers Mourn

And suddenly, when no one was actually paying attention to it, Gothic Doom got its second chance with Draconian's first full-length.

The early 2000s were the years when Doom Metal was in a state of recession. Apart from a certain buzz about that bizarre Finnish band in its rectory, nothing much was going on. Drone was still barely considered music, Doom/Death had more or less disappeared (apart from the ever present My Dying Bride), Funeral Doom hadnít become a total hype yet... In all, everything was pretty calm on the Doom front. Then this album was released. And suddenly, when no one was actually paying attention to it, Gothic Doom got its second chance.

For everyone back then, Gothic Doom was a thing of the past: the few bands to have practiced it had either died in the 90s or changed style, sometimes radically (think of the massive U-turn taken by Theatre Of Tragedy between 'Velvet Darkness They Fear ' and 'Aťgis', then going even further on 'Musique'). At the time, Draconian was a band only known to the most die-hard followers of the Doom underground... And even there, their name wasnít mentioned regularly. In 2003, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Epica and all the other female-fronted Gothic Metal bands were dominating the scene. And this may be the reason why Draconian were eventually signed after having released four demos and one EP since as far back as the mid-90s.

Musically, this first full length is a bit stuck between two doors: Gothic Doom and more straightforward Gothic Metal. The latter style is most apparent in the relatively high tempo of some tracks. For example, 'The Cry of Silence' starts rather quietly with weeping guitars and mournful female vocals before turning into some classic Swedish Melodic Death Metal in the end, but this change of style is not a flaw by any means. 'The Amaranth' is a pure classic Gothic Metal song in its entirety. The musicians in Draconian know what they are doing, and while many of the elements would sound lame when played by other bands, everything works just fine here. The two tracks from the 'Frozen Features' EP have been dusted off, and the new treatment manages to highlight the best parts of those songs. Entering the more traditional Gothic territories, Draconian included the usual acoustic song (the excellent 'Akherousia') as well as a 19th century poem put into music (a fascinating rendition of William Wordsworth's classic 'A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal'). But for the most part of the album, Draconian display an incredible mastery of mixing melodic Doom/Death with more symphonic parts. They do it with such ease that you can literally hear the years of practice in which they carved their own way of creating Doom music (even more so on The Burning Halo, a compilation of new versions of old songs that was released three years later). A track like 'Silent Winter' shows that Gothic Doom isn't just a bastard subgenre of Gothic Metal, but a real musical style in its own right. To top it all off, the 'Beauty and the Beast' vocals are perhaps the best in the genre since early Theatre Of Tragedy.

With 'Where Lovers Mourn', Draconian simply stepped in to set a stagnating scene back in motion: they managed to find a niche for themselves, to recruit new fans for the Doom genre and to influence a whole new generation of bands (as demonstrated by the incredible number of Russian-speaking bands playing music in this vein nowadays). While I don't consider this album to be the pinnacle of what the band has to offer (I'd go for 'Arcane Rain Fell' any day myself, or the more recent 'A Rose For The Apocalypse'), it is still a classic album worthy of being purchased. It is also a historic moment in the development of that little known subgenre called Gothic Doom.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. The Cry of Silence
2. Silent Winter
3. A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal
4. The Solitude
5. Reversio ad Secessum
6. The Amaranth
7. Akherousia
8. It Grieves My Heart

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Draconian bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-12-26 by Laurent Lignon
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