Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
posted on 6/2008 By:
Todesbonden is a female-fronted band. It’s a pretty fair bet, given the songs on Sleep Now, Quiet Forest, that the band considers the operatic tones of one Laurie Ann Haus to be their greatest appeal. I guess, to most people, the under-representation of a certain gender in the genre of heavy metal leads to instantaneous fascination with the few women who step into the scene, but I’ve never really been very interested. Guys have been doing a right admirable job of handling metal so far, so it seems more a novelty to change the norm than an improvement. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of picking up albums purely because of beautiful voices (Dargaard, the regrettably named Stream of Passion), but, for the most part, a woman vocalist is typically the most noticed, and most emphasized, part of a band, and I usually check out at that point. That said, if top-tier operatic crooning inspires you to hike up your skirt and skip on down to the nearest record store, you wouldn’t be amiss in picking up Todesbonden’s debut. Laurie Ann Haus has a mighty fine voice, and there’s quite a lot of it on Sleep Now, Quiet Forest.
Should that alone not be enough of a draw, know that the band plays metal of a fairly generic traditional fare, with a large amount of quiet, pondering sections. The sound could probably be described as orchestral, but only to serve as an indication of the instruments used, not of the bombast frequently associated with that label, as it is nowhere to be found on this disc. The band states that their music is intended to “touch the inner heart and soul of every listener,” which likely gives an accurate notion of what the album sounds like. Somewhere between the emotional violin passages of “Aengus Og’s Fiddle” and the soothing vocals of “Flow My Tears”, it becomes quite evident that these are songs for introspective, non-metal moods.
The parts of Sleep Now, Quiet Forest that shine are the rarer-than-I’d-like piano and violin moments. Both have a subtlety and finesse that carries the songs they are most present in, as highlighted by the powerful piano/violin/guitar interplay on “Fading Empire”. Unfortunately, these moments are rather infrequent, as the instruments are largely kept in the background, leaving the vocalist constantly in the forefront. This is kind of why I prefer male vocalists over the alternative; it isn’t for aptitude or aural reasons, but simply that male vocalists don’t become the lynchpin of the music. That isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with Ms. Haus’s singing, but halfway through the album it becomes apparent that the main character’s soliloquy has gone on for too long, and the supporting characters should take the stage. Like a well-written play, though, the backing cast has the most memorable lines, which only adds to the already talented backbone of the music.
Sleep Now, Quiet Forest hits some monotonous potholes, especially as it draws to a close, but talent and potential can be found in abundance. If the next album consists entirely of quality songs such as “Aengus Og’s Fiddle”, “Trianon”, “Sailing Alone”, and “Fading Empire” in particular, Todesbonden will have something great on their hands. For now, however, the debut is a very satisfying chunk of quiet, laid-back music.
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