Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 10/10/2006
The Burning Halo
posted on 10/2006 By:
Sweden’s Draconian have been grinding the axe of gothic death n’ doom for quite some time now, and while it was 2003’s Where Lovers Mourn that finally put them on the metal map after years of hard work and determination, it was 2005’s Arcane Rain Fell that proved the group to be serious contenders to help lead the genre into the future. Dubbed a “bonus album” by their label, Napalm Records, The Burning Halo is their latest platter of sorrowful beauty containing three brand new works of brooding gloom (tracks 1-3), three re-recorded tracks of murky and evil darkness (4-6, taken from 1999’s The Closed Eyes of Paradise demo) and two cover songs (7-8, originally by Ekseption & Pentagram respectively). Having never heard the three reworked songs before myself, it’s easy for me to look at this release as six fresh ventures into wrist slashing purgatory. Not to mention the fact you’re still getting around 48 minutes of original music, with the revised versions surely sounding more up to date production-wise.
"She Dies" immediately sets the tone right from the start as it trudges along as if the band is towing the weight of a thousand coffins behind them. The production of the album is flawless giving each instrument involved plenty of room to breathe. The word ‘genius’ came to mind as I heard the music soften a bit as some spoken word passages were read while birds were chirping in the background. I’ve brought the hammer down on the whole ‘spoken word’ delivery before, but this genre is simply made for it. "Through Infectious Waters (A Sickness Elegy)" starts off with some battle drums that slowly march the song toward a slightly faster pace. The dreary middle section sets the stage for the latter part of the song that contains a riff progression that seems to climb uphill while the guitar and piano melodies dance beside one another with sullen splendor. "The Dying" flows along in a stream of grimness flaunting vocals that go from one extreme to the other. At one point you’re being pummeled by the standard loooowwww end growl regurgitated from deep within only to be serenaded by the perfect blend of female romanticism. The amalgamation of the two is done with complete professionalism and I’m hard pressed to name an act out there that does it better.
The first of the refurbished songs is "Serenade of Sorrow", which starts off with a moderately up tempo beat that gives off a somewhat rocky vibe. Even though most of the songs are of an extremely slow nature, Draconian doesn’t shy away from displaying guitars that chug along to some double kick that truly make the slower sections more effective when they return to them. Even though the next cut was originally written roughly eight years ago, the revised version of "The Morningstar" is my choice for anthem of the year…hell, anthem of the new millennium. Visions of the band carrying the flag of gothic doom on its back engulf my mind leaving me content and trusting of their willingness to do so. With a completely infectious verse section containing up front gutturals backed by female gentleness, the song reeks of dark emotion that leisurely builds up until the song bursts into furious rage at the hand of some mighty blast beats. Of course the song ultimately reverts back to dimness, and in the end fades out with a simple yet very effectual guitar lead. "The Gothic Embrace" is the last of the renovated offerings that again shows how well this seven piece outfit combines all of their instrumental know how. Soft piano, atmospheric keys, chunky guitar sound coupled with driving twin melodies, perfectly mixed kit…I could go on and on.
At the end of the day Draconian is arguably one of the titans in their respective genre. Even though three of the six songs are re-recorded, each still earns a point in all categories as do the three new songs giving the album an unblemished report from this reviewer. Like I noted above, the production is flawless, the songwriting gleams of brilliance and the musicianship is excellent considering there are seven musicians involved merging all of their respective musical tools perfectly. Forgetting the fact that this is supposed to be a “bonus album”, The Burning Halo will more than likely see my year end list. I’ll be enjoying this for many months to come as it is sure to keep me content while awaiting the band’s new album. Highly recommended for fans of this type of gloom n’ doom.
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