One of the most maudlin musical acts currently gracing the ebony vistas of gothic doom metal, Swedish sorrow-smiths Draconian have been cultivating their unique and haunting brand of melancholia ever since 1994. The group’s latest sombre epic, ‘Under a Godless Veil’, builds on the band’s considerable skill and experience to blend neoclassical instrumentals and harsher metal elements into an arresting, harmonious dissonance. Infused with many of the gorgeous indulgences of the gothic genre, lovers of My Dying Bride and Trees of Eternity will relish the deeply-felt emotion and wistful intensity that pervades every note.
The ponderous and moving track ‘Sorrow of Sophia’ opens the album and sets the scene for things to come, with vocals as delicate as the wings of a dove in delicious contrast to the crashing waves of pure jagged gothic rock. The steady, thudding chords and general air of melancholia that infuses ‘The Sacrificial Flame’ follow and weigh as heavily on the chest as Fuseli’s night demon, while ‘Lustrous Heart’ is all addictive tumbling melody, ferocious death growls working in harmony with purring, silver-tongued vocals, and soaring crescendos rising and falling into plunging riffs. ‘Sleepwalkers’ plays out like a siren call to madness, evocative of lonely ships lost in the mists of gentle melody breaking against savage, rocky clusters of rage, while ‘Moon Over Sabaoth’ is ominous and sinister in tone, insidious with cloying, inky strains. ‘Burial Fields’ calls to mind the lonely sadness of purgatory, ‘The Sethian’ echoes with glassy high notes that drift like spirits anchorless amidst tombstones, and the intriguing ‘Claw Marks on the Throne’ unfolds like a tragic tale, its oppressive riffs weighted with gravity. ‘Night Visitor’ is a brief interlude offering up some ghostly guitar solos, before the lengthy conclusion ‘Ascend into Darkness’ overwhelms the senses with its billowing dark draperies of starry sound.
Although there’s not much here to set the artistry apart from the crowded gothic metal scene, ‘Under a Godless Veil’ has a certain seductive quality that is not easily forgettable. An accomplished slice of doom, it slowly slips under the skin.
'Under A Godless Veil' is out 30th October via Napalm