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Moaning Silence : A World Afraid Of Light

Greek band Moaning Silence make every Atmospheric/Gothic inclusion fit carefully into a balanced whole.

Things we really like, #14: Melogoth. A label I may have just made up on the spot, but it ought to be a thing. And, in the case of Greek band Moaning Silence, it pretty much is a thing. If you take the original Peaceville Gothic/Doom, with its Death-based roots, and bring it up to date to replace harshness with a lush, rounded, melancholy atmosphere, polish it with a silky-smooth modern production, and at all costs avoid the symphonic/orchestral feel of latterday Gothic...then, voilą. The same sort of category you might consider pioneered by Anathema in their transition days, and into which you could probably put others such as countrymen Immensity and Italian band A Day In Venice.

Or, in old money, you could call it 'Atmospheric' with a secondary rider of Gothic/ or Death/Doom, just to convey the message that the mood is more important than the method of executing it, and that you can expect a certain vagueness when it comes to observing genre boundaries. Either way, that's what project founder, composer and guitarist/vocalist Christos Dounis' vision has delivered with 'A World Afraid Of Light'. Some of that feeling, no doubt, comes from the exemplary performances of the remainder of the band assembled for this recording: with the producer (and keyboardist/bassist) being Bob Katsionis of - amongst others - Power Metallers Firewind and Outloud fame, alongside female vocalist Aimilia Papatheochari and drummer Vangelis X.

Surely, most modern Doom fans would get a flavour of what to expect if told that the album contains a more Metal-based cover of 'Parisienne Moonlight', beefed up with drums and additional keyboard layers. If in any doubt, though, the first couple of minutes of 'Solitude' should more or less settle it: the slick transitions from brief keyboard intro to weepy Gothic riff to more muscular Death/Doom theme to acoustic bridge, feeding in forceful clean male vocals and soaring female counters and harmonies (and even spoken words) along the way, are much of the core Moaning Silence playbook laid straight out in front of you. There are a few surprises to come later, with the punchy chugging riff and double-kick of 'Black Skies', the folksy lilting of 'On Fragile Wings', a gentle waltz for 'As If It Was Yesterday', and the rainstorm ambience of brief spoken outro 'Sparks Of Light'. Occasionally, synthesised strings, guitar solos and piano leads make an appearance, adding some nice variety without ever getting pompous.

And that's the key to this album, for me: though it could easily have erred on the side of overblown, given all of the above, it in fact steers a very restrained path, where every inclusion has carefully been crafted into a balanced whole. Yes, without a doubt, it sets out to create a particular spread of moods - sadness, regret, nostalgia, the gentle ache of melancholy - and succeeds in doing so with a deft melodic sympathy rather than excess histrionics. Much as with Anathema's 'Eternity' to 'Judgement' period, you can appreciate the pervading emotions and the music as you wish, their bittersweet natures unconstrained to a particular interpretation; embodying the sort of ambiguities suggested by untranslatably complex concepts like sehnsucht or saudade.

On those grounds, it's hard to fault the completeness of the concept, and the thematic link between the songs, the lyrics of each printed in the booklet alongside quotes from famous authors and poets (Proust, Shakespeare, Wilde and others) that inspire or illustrate them. Equally hard to fault would be the technical side of things, with the band's flawless execution of a modernised Peaceville equivalent captured and presented beautifully by Katsionis. Tidily finished off with evocative cover artwork by Gilles Grimoin, the overall package is an attractive, informative and high-quality one. And while you may have heard many of the same elements within it used before, that isn't going to stop me recommending it hugely for putting them together with such skill and variety.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Solitude
2. Black Skies
3. On Fragile Wings
4. Parisienne Moonlight
5. The Last Days Of December
6. As If It Was Yesterday
7. Stay
8. Just Another Day
9. An Elegy For The Crestfallen
10. Sparks Of Light

Duration : Approx. 47 minutes

Visit the Moaning Silence bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-03-26 by Mike Liassides
Thermal Mass
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