Draconian – “Under A Godless Veil” CD / 2 LP (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
‘…from my window I saw the darkness ignite..’, if you’re a fan of My Dying Bride, Katatonia and Paradise Lost then Draconian will no doubt be familiar to you. This Swedish band were formed during the mid 90s, enduring line-up changes as they walked through the valley of death to release six full-length studio albums prior to “Under A Godless Veil”. Some five years in the making and the second album to feature Heike Langhans (LOR3L3I:, Light Field Reverie, ex-Hallatar (live), ex-Inferium, ex-ISON, ex-The Great Sleep) on clean female vocals, Draconian’s seventh release continues in the familiar wake of gothic doom death across its 10 mournful tracks. Contrasting Langhans’ serene charms are founder vocalist Anders Jakobsson’s beastly roars backed by the slow, thick guitars of Johan Ericson (Doom:VS, ex-Shadowgarden, Styggli, ex-Third Storm) and Daniel Arvidsson (Mammoth Storm, Scorched, ex-Nibdem, ex-Entity of Fire) exuding sorrow in every musty riff and melancholic melody. Equally noticeable is also the liberal use of dark keyboards by both Jakobsson and Ericson to add tons of ghostly atmosphere in creating a breath-taking soundscape for the music, which feels completely otherworldly in its effect. As such, songs like ‘Moon Over Sabaoth’ with its slick goth melodies sliding over a smouldering backdrop of doom death provide the perfect canvass for Jakobsson to roar while the ethereal wails of Langhans are nothing short of possessive as they spiral through your soul. On ‘The Sethian’, the alternating lulling keyboards and blissful guitar sounds shattered by the fierce blast beating of raw guitars, strummed bass, double bass drum furore and pagan shouts is as dramatic in its sound and as it is in its emotive effect, as are the guitar wails and of course, Langhans’ soothing touch. Ending in the 8 minute ‘Ascend Into Darkness’, Draconian provide a fitting epitaph of suitably dark and epic proportions as their funeral death march, led by Langhans accompanied by guitars of wailing melancholia and deathly chiming melodies are starkly contrasted by Jakobsson’s own haunting dark drawls as he pleads ‘…have mercy on me, oh mother, have mercy…’. “Under A Godless Veil” is an utterly captivating release reflective of the half decade Draconian have taken in making it.