Draconian – The Burning Halo (2006) Album Review

And here I am, struggling to do this review with a terrible stomachache. If it wasn’t for Draconian I swear I would’ve not cared but for this band, I’d rather delay my death rather than delaying this review. People that are following my blog might be acquainted with their style and their musical approach especially since I reviewed their latest album, A Rose for the Apocalypse.

Draconian’s 3rd full length album The Burning Halo was released in 2006 is not really that much of a surprise nor an album that can break into charts. It is not even filled with new songs. It is composed of 3 original songs, 3 redone songs from the demo The Closed Eyes of Paradise and two other covers of songs from the 1970s.

Since they’re earlier album releases, Draconian became a band that must not be taken lightly by the metal community. Both Where Lovers Mourn and Arcane Rain Fell were well received by metal fans and their style started to get more refined. You know, it is said that the first album is an experimental album where the band tries to come up with something new. The second album is considered the strong piece of the collection and it depends of its success if the band will get to a higher place in charts and if it attracts more attention from the metal fan-bases.

However, the third album is the one that counts the most. The first two are the base, the foundation of a band’s style, yet the third is the one that gives them their identity and also their definite style. You do not need to know the band so that you can figure out their style, as long as you’re acquainted with their specific sound you can recognize them. Draconian is one of those band that have an aura in their songs, a special one, that makes them easy to be recognized.

Like we were used, this album as well features death grunts from Anders Jacobsson and clean vocals from Lisa Johansson. Surprisingly though, this duo in my opinion had the best performance in this album. The 1st song (which is the 1st original track of this album) entitled She Dies actually tells us already the style that the band developed. Anders has the main role in this song, with his powerful and convincing death grunts and with the melancholic guitar riffs, this song can quickly catch the attention of the listener and it stands as the perfect album introduction. The lyrics of this song depicts the death of a beloved one and the resolve the one that still lives has in order to not forget his beloved one wishing that if he could die along with her.

Likewise in the 2nd song of the album, entitled Through Infectious Waters (A Sickness Elegy) the main role is once again bestowed upon Anders but this time Lisa gets a more important role as well, featuring a perfect duo. It is only until the 3rd track and the last original one from this album, entitled The Dying when the power of this duo is revealed. This is probably the second best song from this album in my standards.

Now on to the re-recorded songs. Since the band changed a little bit from their early 1999 demo, they had to make these songs appeal for their new image as a Gothic doom metal band. As expected all of them fit seamlessly in the bands style however, the song that I considered the best out of all the songs from this album is The Gothic Embrace which expresses a huge disgust and hatred towards Christians and Christianity, depicting god and religion as an entity that stoles everything a man holds dear.

The two covers from this album are slightly different compared to the style that this band is using. Though the 1st song entitled On Sunday They Will Kill The World originally performed by Ekseption fits in the doom/death metal description and it is a good choice but the 2nd cover Forever My Queen does stray a bit from Draconian’s style mainly because the band that firstly performed it, Pentagram is slightly different in style playing a more traditional doom metal.

Though this could not be considered a very outstanding album, it sends exactly what the fans wanted to receive, more Draconian like songs with messages that hold deep meanings. I do admit that Draconian through Anders’s voice tends to be very convincing. His grunts are just absolutely amazing and combined with Lisa’s voice, they make a wonderful duo on stage and even on live performances.

I do not claim that this is their best album. Their style remained the same in all of their full length album which is quite amazing, however Draconian is not a band that reached its climax. I am definitely waiting to see them reaching it and if it will, I think it will be one of the best albums in the Gothic and doom metal genre of the new decade.

Overall Impression: 75/100

Draconian – A Rose For The Apocalypse (2011) Album Review

Overlooking Draconian was a hard thing to do. I am not someone that knows about the band since their formation. I encountered this marvelous band when they released their second album only. What I heard while listening it was stunning. Draconian is not the typical doom metal nor the typical Gothic metal band, it combines both genres and the result is purely fantastic, a harmony between these two styles I have not encountered.

When I think that Draconian doesn’t benefit from popularity, I think it is a real shame, because they offered so much quality in their works and without a doubt, they will have much more to offer in the future. Draconian changed from a death/doom metal band into a Gothic Doom metal band by the time Anders Jacobsson joined the band. Until then, the band did not release a full length album and it won’t happen until 2003 when Where Lovers Mourn was released.

A Rose For the Apocalypse is not an album that changes the musical style Draconian delivered until now, in fact, it takes it to a whole new level. It can be felt that in this album, the one that dominates it is not Anders but Lisa Johansson, thing that could be witnessed in a more earlier release called Turning Season Within. This album proves to be a lot more melodic and also much more somber and melancholic than its predecessor, probably because Lisa’s calm yet sorrowful voice mostly dominates it. From my point of view, Lisa is one of the most underrated female vocalist, her voice is not just good, it is not something that can be called “talent” or something that could be obtained through hard training, but she has feeling in it, she can express emotions, and her calm voice in several songs such as Deadlight, Dead World Assembly or The Death of Hours is just stunning but frightening at the same time, giving you the exact feelings you should expect from a Draconian album.

Instrumentally speaking, this album is the same like the other ones with minor changes. One change is that in this album you can barely hear the keyboard’s sound, which on the first two albums was much more dominant but with Turning Season Within, it slowly started to go in the background. Draconian was never a band that would venture in complicated and unconventional musical structures. Stylistically speaking, their music is not complex at all and this is maybe what it is good about them, they manage to make a good product from simplicity, avoiding complex fields. What matters for this band is not song complexity and complicated stuff, but atmosphere and feelings, they just want to deliver to the listener what they expect to hear from a Draconian album, nothing more, nothing less.

I feel that Anders is also getting old, his voice seems a little bit out of shape in this album and his growls have much lower intensity considering that in Turning Season Within, his voice was very aggressive. I might be mistaken, it might be that he reduced his voice intensity so that he could make more space for Lisa’s performance. Though I find it better since in duet’s there is much more harmony.

One thing that I also love about this band is the use of poetry in their music. Songs such as The Death of Hours also include a small fragment from Lawrence Hope and Dead World Assembly contains another small fragment from one of William Black’s poems. The theme of these two poems, fit the image of the band and also the theme of this album.

I remember some lyrics from a Draconian song, I think it was the remastered version of  The Gothic Embrace saying something “An ocean of tears I see”, this is what can describe A Rose For the Apocalypse. A very mournful album, a much more sorrowful one with much more feeling in it and much more emotional than the previous ones. This album also marked the release of Draconian’s first music video for the second song of the album The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight, which is not really intended for promotion, but rather to send a message and to provide an image of the album to the listener.

An outstanding work coming from a rare, outstanding band. I really hope that we have not seen the last of Draconian’s works, despite the fact that I mourn Lisa’s departure from the band. I am sure that Anders and the gang will pull something up because I believe that this band has much more to offer since I don’t consider their previous albums, nor this new album, a climax in their musical career. There is still room for more, and time seems to be generous as well.

Overall Impression:  100/100