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Vagrant God - Vagrant God (2012) - Review

Band: Vagrant God
Album title: Vagrant God
Release date: 5 September 2012
Label: Secret Quarters

01. Perfect Innocence
02. Stigma
03. Ocean Bed
04. To The Garden
05. In My Failings
06. The Pathos Weavers
07. Insignia
08. Birds Of Leaving
09. Mentor

Vagrant God's self titled album in question was supposed to be released back in 2007, but due to some problems with their then label it's released only now. It must be said that the member formation of this band is the same as of Norways doom metal outfit Omit (except for the drummer) and of dark folk duo Havnatt (vocalist Cecilie Langlie and guitarist Tom Simonsen), but with somehow different style, oriented more towards classic gothic metal with female vocals. The third member here is multiinstrumentalist Kjetil Ottersen (also in Omit) who is responsible for lyrics and majority of music present on this album. With Vagrant Gods debut we are witnessing one of the best female fronted gothic metal albums in recent time.

The beginning with "Perfect Innocence" and "Stigma" is nothing spectacular, actually the first two tracks are the biggest letdown up here and can't be compared with everything that follows. For my taste there is too much of nu-metal or alternative metal vibe present in there, especially because of unnecessary male vocals. In "Stigma" you can sense a lot of resemblance with Linkin Park, just because of male vocal lines. Nevertheless the first signs of great guitar work and gloomy ambiance is present there and Cecilies vocals already prove that she is really something special with hers ethereal and calm voice. Also kind of funny cover art is... funny and it does not represent the postponed music, but, let's be honest, it's somehow original. The fun begins with the third track "Ocean Bed" and amazing epic gothic doom song "To The Garden" where those who liked Omit's album Repose released last year will come on their turn. Tuned down heavily distorted guitars accompanied with before mentioned ethereal voice, atmospheric synth work, nice piano touches, dynamic song strunctures and much more it's hidden here and just waiting to be discovered. Bass lines are heavy and are played with perfection, drums are programmed, but music doesn't loose any dynamics because of this. Some solo guitar leads and accoustic parts are more than welcome here and there. "Insignia" starts with captivating gothic rock riffing and continues greatly, this track is the only one where spoken male dialogue adds a lot of good points to this song. "In My Failings" offers one of the best vocal interpretations from Cecilie. Vagrant God proves that they are good also in crafting unpretentious, almost pop rocking melodies, like in "Birds Of Leaving" whose refrain will rest in your ears long after this song ends. Background cello sound and piano touches in conclusive "Mentor" are breathtaking and this song with it's heavy and dark ambiance offers the right conclusion for this album. Nine songs present on this album are all wrapped in dark and melancholic veil, but not like on Omit's great album Repose, although resemblances are obvious, especially in doomier songs like before mentioned "In My Failings" or "To The Garden", here is more vivacity and complexity. Luckily Vagrant God does not become boring, there is enough diversity among the tracks and they are not too long and repetitive. Song structures are mostly well balanced between melodic, slow and middle tempo kind of more aggressive parts.  Production, mixing and masterization is done by band members and it's not bad, contrary, is modern and gives a lot of depth. The only critique then remains the usage of poorly performed male vocals in some songs. Without those this album could be a masterpiece.

So, fans of female fronted gothic metal have another act waiting to be discovered and consumed, as it offers something refreshing to this style and are not, at least evidently, copying any of bigger bands like many of newcomers do today in this musical field. I Hope that this album is not first and last studio effort from Vagrant God and that they'll continue this path, fans of this musical style certainly deserve more music like this.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10