Monday, May 8, 2017

Shores of Null : "Black Drapes of Tomorrow"

This Italian metal behind often finds themselves falling close to black metal if we are still referring to new Enslaved as black metal. This is the band's second album and it  is very cleanly recorded. The mix is impeccable. The first song is more of an intro, though "Donau" feels like a logical extension of it. The vocals are the first thing that is very different. The are a tightly harmonized baritone that I can understand why someone might compare it to Alice In Chains. They do drop into a lower goth like tone.The gruff vocals that eventually come are not as interesting as the sung vocals. The vocal refrains to "Tides Against Us " are perhaps marginally more interesting than the vocals of the first song. It does become clear that these guys have a formula in place in terms of dynamics. "House of Cries" would sound more like black metal if the more feral vocals were screamed out rather than the smoother croon. The drumming is as on point as what this sort of thing requires. The guitars are not out to dazzle you they kind of sweep you away in a majestic drone. The blast beats happen , but don't feel as in your face since they are not dependent on them.

 The title track breaks away from the soaring black metal like drive that carries the album up to this point. The vocals start off as low goth narrative and then shift in the more harmonized sung vocal. This spoils you so when the growls come in they are kind of a buzz kill rather than a savage release. Sometimes this almost makes these guys feel like a mellow black metal version of Mastodon. However just when I think that they introduce acoustic guitars to lead into a song that is really just the intro for "Carry on, My Tiny Hope". They begin to introduce more layers of guitar melody and by the time they speed up it sounds more like prog metal.The vocals even take one more of an Evergrey or Symphony X, where they are still powerfully sung, but with a husky baritone rather than the doubled harmonies.

There is a doom power ballad feel to "We Ain't Ashes" which in some ways would translate to Dio era Black Sabbath. Things build into more of a Opeth gallop. The harser vocals continue to not be their strongest suit. There higher more death metal like screams work better than the lower Unleashed like growls. The clean vocals reclaim the spot light on "A Thousand Storms" ,  another smoothed out black metal like ditty that is more of a happy medium dynamically. The vocals are still sung but more emotive on "The Kolyma Route". Here the balance of the harsher vocals to clean vocals works well and the lower growls that accent the first few verses sound better, maybe it is a production choice and they just shit better in the mix. The song transitions well into more of groove towards the end. Overall the vocals help this stand out as a very unique take on moody melodic black metal, though not black metal in the sense we commonly think of it as a blasts fests. I enjoyed this album and will round it up to a 9.5.


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