Draconian: Sovran

Gothic doom metallers go easy on the grotesque

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Metal has long celebrated ugliness: ugly subjects, ugly sounds, ugly vocals.

A simplistic description of a subject worthy of essays perhaps, but one pertinent to the only problem with Draconian’s excellent sixth album, Sovran. It is as slick and polished a piece of gothic metal as has come to be expected from the Swedes, the music falling somewhere between the melodic riffing of Katatonia and the abject misanthropy of Type O Negative.

Funereal in tone on the organ-drenched Heavy Lies The Crown, and in pace on the sparse Rivers Between Us, one-note leads are sustained unto their poignant deaths, but with a polarising vocal performance. The exchange of Anders Jacobsson’s gruff bellows and Heike Langhans’ gracefully impassioned lilt complement both each other and the record’s light-and-shade dynamics, but for many who would otherwise revel in a record of such accomplished funereal doom, the female vocals will be offputting.

They may be light years ahead of the plethora of trite female-fronted goth metal bands out there, but still a touch too kitsch for those who love to wallow in ugliness.