I can confidently say that Draconian new album for me was one of the most awaited releases of the year, especially after the news that the vocalist Heike Langhans will replace Lisa Johansson. Lisa gave all her soul to Draconian albums of previous years, but left the band four years ago, and fans remained in the dark what will happen with the band for a long time, until they finally announced new album release. Draconian have shown two aspects of musical creativity on the last two albums: masterpiece Turning Season Within in 2008 joins my top 10 albums that deserve attention, while the latter, in 2011, A Rose For The Apocalypse, was a disappointment, as musicians (in my opinion) did not offer anything special in terms of sound, only the most devoted fans really loved it. So I was a bit worried whether the band will get back on track and create another magical gothic/doom metal album. From the first listening my excitement disappeared and I was pleasantly surprised both melancholy and explosive nature of the new songs. Sovran is an absolute masterpiece in the genre that can compete only with their album Turning Season Within or Arcane Rain Fell.
Sovran is a proof that the combination of gothic metal and doom metal works fine if you have high-level musicians who perform and do create such music. Rate of the album features a slow pace, it is not as fast as the past, but kept a gloomy atmosphere. Songs are juicy, flowing, dramatic and quite melancholic. Most melodies are stunningly breathtaking, guitar sound is delicate and heavy at the same time, you can often hear familiar to tears, typically draconian lines and guitar riffs, rhythmic line explosive is enough to bring desired dose of turbulent doom metal and light aggression in the composition. Multidimensional atmosphere evident in the performance of gothic symphonic synths that give to songs an incredible depth and rich sound.
Now about vocals…
Heike vocal – perhaps because of my admiration of Within Temptation, seemed to me a copy of Sharon voice. Not a very good copy. I can’t say that on the album Heike Langhans sounds bad, but I did not hear the depth of tone, compared with the vocals of Lisa. I don’t want to start a holy war, because whatever I say – Heike voice sounds flat and poorly against the background growling of Anders Jakobsson. And this is perhaps the only fly in the ointment in this album.
Back to album. In my opinion Sovran should be next in popularity after the Turning Season Within, as they have much in common in the mood. From heavy “Heavy Lies The Crown”, which opens the album, the dramatic “Dusk Mariner”, slightly melancholic “Stellar Tombs” and up to the beautiful ballad “Rivers Between Us”, a truly unique song with a romantic sound landscape, that is atypical for Draconian, where vocals of Heike and Anders accompanied by guest vocalist Daniel Änghede (Ison, Hearts Of Black Science, Crippled Black Phoenix), the band compels to admire a large dose of emotional diversity and variations dark mood. Album ends with the song “The Marriage Of Attaris”, which has all the characteristics required to enter a list of Draconian classics.
Thus, Sovran is charming, melancholic and dreamy adventure, but at the same time it is heavy and powerful, as a whole band stayed true to their debut album Where Lovers Mourn (2003), where they moved away from their early death/black metal creativity towards the dark death-gothic style that attracted fans of bands like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema. Sovran is absolutely perfect in terms of music, it has depth, dynamic, clear sound. Now band has risen to a new level and is steadily moving to conquer the throne of gothic/doom metal. Sovran is definitely “must have” for all fans of the genre as the best album of 2015!
(c) Sofia Kinnunen (also dailymetal.com.ua)
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