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Draconian - Sovran (2015) - Review

Band: Draconian
Album title: Sovran
Release date: 30 October 2015
Label: Napalm Records

01. Heavy Lies The Crown
02. The Wretched Tide
03. Pale Tortured Blue
04. Stellar Tombs
05. No Lonelier Star
06. Dusk Mariner
07. Dishearten
08. Rivers Between Us [feat. Daniel Änghede]
09. The Marriage Of Attaris

I can easily say that the new Draconian album was one of mine most expected releases this year, especially when the news came that the magnificient female vocalist Heike Langhans will replace Lisa Johansson. Lisa gave her soul into the sound of Draconian on their past efforts, but left the band four years ago and we were left in some kind of uncertainty about what will happen with the band until they finally announced a new album. Draconian with their last two albums showed two sides of musical creativity, a masterpiece Turning Season Within from 2008 entered on my top 10 list of all times, while the previous one from 2011, A Rose For The Apocalypse, was quite a letdown in my opinion, as it didn't really offered anything special soundwise and only those devoted fans of the band really digged it. So, I was worried a bit if the band can get back on a right track again and make another stellar offering of gothic/doom metal like almost nobody else can do. Already with the very first listen my worries vanished and I was hooked by its melancholic and soaring character in an instant. Sovran is an absolute masterpiece within the genre, it might compete only with their albums like is before mentioned Turning Season Within or Arcane Rain Fell.

Sovran is a proof that the combination of gothic metal and doom metal works out perfectly if you have top notch musicians performing and composing it. While the pace of the album is a bit slower and not so direct like on some of their previous albums, the whole gloomy atmosphere is outstanding, songs are catchy, flowing, dramatic and absolutely racked by melancholy. Most of the melodies are stunningly captivating, guitar sound is gentle and heavy at the same time, often we hear those typical slowly gliding evocative trademark Draconian lines and riffs which brings tears in the eye, the rhythmic line is crushing, just right to give that necessary dose of turbulent doom metal and slight aggression into these compositions. The multidimensional ambiance gets often fulfilled with obscure gothy symphonic synths which give to the songs such an unimaginable depth and rich sound. Then the vocals... my love towards the hypnotizing, emotive and soothing voice of Heike already started to grow when I heard her solo project Lorelei and I completely felt for it with Ison's Cosmic Drone. She is a perfect substitute for as well marvelous singer Lisa Johansson, but Heike's voice is much more characteristic and special, it embraces with kind of warmth and if it wouldn't be for Anders, who with his deep, yet distinguishable growls offers a counterpart, she could take all of the credits and the sound could be imagined as if Ison made a gothic/doom release.

All of the songs on Sovran are nicely building up in atmosphere, there are so many layers and the one who would like to take everything this album offers should be concetrated on the music as much as possible, possibly setting up a perfect mood. In my opinion Sovran should be a successor to Turning Season Within, as there are many similarities in mood. From the heavy opener "Heavy Lies The Crown", the dramatic "Dusk Mariner", smooth melancholic "Stellar Tombs" and to the beautiful balladic "Rivers Between Us", a truly unique song with a broading romantic soundscape, something like Draconian never did before, where Heike and Anders gets accompanied by guest vocalist Daniel Änghede (Ison, Hearts Of Black Science, Crippled Black Phoenix), the band constantly embraces with such a high dose of emotional diversity and dark mood variations. Actually Sovran is full of soaring moments, threatening moods and groovy parts, like for example in the mesmerizing "Pale Tortured Blue", where the subtle sound of violin so nicely blends into the whole spectrum before the song expands into a groovy driving mass of dense soul-stirring sound. The album ends with "The Marriage Of Attaris", another song that has all the necessary characteristics to became another Draconian classic, in a way parts of it remind me to their beautiful hit "Bloodflower".

Sovran is magical, soothing, melancholic and dreamy adventure, yet it is ponderous, powerful and heavy by partly remaining loyal to the formula from their debut album, Where Lovers Mourn (2003), where the band made a deviation from their early death/black metal days into a dark and doomy metal style which convinced fans of bands like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and early Anathema. Also productional wise Sovran is absolutely flawless, it has depth, dynamics, clear sound,... simply great. Now the band is walking on higher grounds and are near to conquering the throne of gothic/doom metal genre. Sovran is a strong candidate for album of the year 2015. A must!!!

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9,5/10

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