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Sweet Ermengarde - Ex Oblivione (2016) - Review

Band: Sweet Ermengarde
Album title: Ex Oblivione
Release date: 11 March 2016
Label: Équinoxe Records

01. Ex Oblivione
02. Into Oblivion
03. From Beyond (Sleep Is Better Than Prayer)
04. Port Of Hope
05. Tender Russian Roulette
06. I have been in love with no one, and never shall, unless it should be with you
07. Carmilla
08. Dreamlands
09. Drain
10. Nigredo-Clad
11. Dead Of Night
12. Beneath This House
13. For Your Bodies Are The Temples Of The Holy Ghost

While the wait for the next album of Fields Of The Nephilim is coming closer finally, before that comes something that will make you forget for a while about the British legends. It seems that Germany is now the mightiest stronghold for gothic rock, thanks to bands like are Merciful Nuns, Aeon Sable and of course Sweet Ermengarde. Sweet Ermengarde, the German quintet from Bochum released now an album that goes above most of the releases taged gothic rock in quite some time, yes, it's reminiscent to Fields Of The Nephilim' albums like are Elizium, The Nephilim or even to Mourning Sun, but it has so many elements that can't be put in the same line with those masterpieces. The band already with their debut album, Raynham Hall, released in 2013, caused quite a stir inside the genre, but it's with Ex Oblivione that the band shows its real power. Maybe also thanks to the new members, vocalist Daniel Schweigler and guitarist Mike York (Kalt, ex-Garden Of Delight), the sound of the band reached a new level, it has become darker, more haunting and even more epic.

Everything you ever searched in gothic rock and even more is right here. Ex Oblivione offers thirteen tracks full of dense atmosphere, melancholy, darkness, strange quite modern compositional twists, hellish power and sublime melodies. Yes, in my opinion this is gothic rock as it should be, still I don't say that the genre can't spread even further, their country mates Aeon Sable are proof for that, but Ex Oblivione stands as one of the strongest albums ever released inside the genre. Daniel's vocals are darker than were of their former singer Kuba, are more typical 'goth' ones, with certain romantic velvety feel, but still powerfull, rather hoarsey, dramatic and giving chills down your spine. The guitar sound is another chapter, some riffs are just memorable, sometimes distant and cold, a couple of times reminiscent to The Mission, but those driving guitar lines, most of the time crossing the line between gothic rock and metal, are giving the right amount of energy and heaviness to the whole thing. Yet the band nicely inserts some reverberate sparkly chords, luminous leads and acoustic parts. The rhythm section does wonders, smooth echoing bass guitar is maybe the strongest and most reconcilient instrument here, while the floating drum beats just make everything more lauded. The atmosphere is in the end deepened with gloomy synths when most needed.

Sweet Ermengarde made their songs very dynamic, in some of them, for example in the opener "Ex Oblivione" or in epic mourning etherealism of the cinematic "For Your Bodies Are The Temples Of The Holy Ghost", there are significant dark ambient elements, just to give kind of a creepy feeling. Everything well connected with the overall goth rock sound which expands relentlessy in "Into Oblivion" or in powerful groover "From Beyond (Sleep Is Better Than Prayer)". Also some alternative rock elements are well heard here and there, "Port Of Hope" and "Tender Russian Roulette" are examples of that. The band also knows how to slowly build on ambiance and reach some kind of a climax, just listen to sensual "Carmilla" and you'll know what I mean. Also more mellow tracks like is "Dreamlands", don't do that much of damage when you came across to some mind blowing riffs inside it. "Drain" on the other hand offers kind of a ritual/tribalistic doomy vibe, while the fogy dark "Nigredo-Clad" with its slight early Diary Of Dreams touch (not only because its title), can be counted as one of the highlights of this album, together with the captivating "Dead Of Night" which blew me away with its catchy refrain and with truly great guitar job. If you are one of those who can't get out of your head Fields Of The Nephilim' timeless song "And There Will Your Heart Be Also", Sweet Ermengarde did something that will make you crave for more and more with mesmerizing atmospheric, yet very emotional ballad "Beneath This House".

Like I said, Ex Oblivione is one of the best gothic rock albums ever, it's adventurous, lush, will make your feelings waveing with its sonorities that will push you into hell and then make you see how it's like in heaven. Good production, intriguing compositions, Lovecraftian lyrics, melancholic but yet rich atmospheric sound are just some of the things that make this release an outstanding one. While just a bit more of originality wouldn't hurt, I still say that Ex Oblivione  is gothic rock with capital G, it's magic.

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