Review: Draconian – Sovran
Tekst: Gerianne Meijer
Now that the weather has definitely turned to fall and with that come the grey skies and rain it wouldn’t be suprising if music lovers turn to a bit more gloomy tracks to listen to. It’s therefore probably no coincidence that gothic doom metallers Draconian release their new album Sovran at the end of this month. This album has been a long time coming. It’s predecessor A Rose for the Apocalypse was released in 2011. The wait might have someting to do with the switch to a new female vocalist. Lisa Johansson has left the band and has made place for Heike Langhans. It will be interesting to hear how the music fares with this change.
While listening to opener ‘Heavy Lies the Crown’ however it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. The track is heavy, slow and has that typical Draconian sound. Heike’s vocals are soft and remind me a bit of Sharon den Adel, but are more full and sensitive. They fit the music perfectly and add even more emotional depth. Anders Jacobsson’s grunts add in seamlessly and the track builds and builds to a rounded and captivating song. It seems like a classic Draconian song: doomy and balaced. It also sticks in your head and won’t let go. This makes the transfer to ‘The Wretched Tide’ a bit difficult, but this song has an interesting, almost hypnotising guitar riff which makes you pay attention. This combined with moving grunts and clear female vocals make another well evened out track. The rising tempo takes you further down dark depths and this effect is strengthened by Heike’s fragile vocals. ‘Pale Tortured Bue’ also plays with the tempo nicely and has strings that build up tension. This track shows some more sublime guitarwork by Johan Ericsson and Daniel Arvidsson and is therefore one not to miss.
‘Stellar Tombs’ stands out for different reasons. The tempo here is rather high, maybe one of the fastest on te album, and the drums by Jerry Torstensson are powerful. Heike gets the chance to go full out here and the chorus is soaring. The ending is very fragile in contrast, leading up to the bombastic ‘Lonlier Star’. This invites to push the volume up even more, with a heavy bass from Fredrik Johansson. It’s a solid number, that opens up more with every listen. Unlike ‘Dusk Mariner’ where the melodic, weeping guitar and dynamic tempo will hold you from the get go. Heike’s voice is very soft here and is a safe haven among the growls from Anders.
‘Dishearten’ is a very interesting song, bombastic and with swaying guitars. The vocals, both female and male, are gut wrenching and resonate in a way that will make you want to push the repeat button. This is not advised however, as it will make you miss another great piece: ‘Rivers Between Us’. This has balladesque guitars that are begging and pleading and vocals that will leave permanent goosebumps. Guest vocalist here is Daniel Anghede and he matches his clean male vocals to Heike’s perfectly. Combine this with powerful grunts and you have a track that gets under your skin to stay, even after a first listen. After these two touching tracks the last song ‘The Marriage of Ataris’ is a bit of calm in the moving storm, with typical guitars and spoken word. Changes in rhythm capture the listener and the song works itself up to a heavy end, which leaves you breathless again.
After multiple listens it can only be said that ‘Sovran’ is a stellar album by Draconian. It acts as a warm blanket and makes the listener feel enveloped and inspired in all it’s gothic glory. The addition of Heike Langhans is one that will hopefully bring the band forward even more as her vocals are a fine fit and make the emotions in the music even more palpable. The album has an addictive element and even though it makes you feel like you are stuck in a vortex of deep and dark emotions it doesn’t matter, because it will leave you wanting more. I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy, get stuck into the lyrics and go even deeper down.