With the precision of a clockwork Sweden’s DRACONIAN are churning out albums and the best thing about it, there is absolutely no sign of letting up, as they seem to be aging like good wine and get better with time! With their previous offering "The Burning Halo" being a mix of old and new, "Turning Season Within" is a fully new effort and they continue to finetune their very own brand of Gothic Doom Metal and have create a few masterpieces on this album that are going to be hard to beat in the future.
If you count all of them in, "Turning Season Within" is their fourth album and definitely their most mature so far, amalgamating Doom and Gothic Metal in great fashion, with the oftentimes slow tempo, melancholic melodies, hoarse growls, but also some double-bass and female vocals, which not always are used the traditional strictly soprano way, which is a very welcome breath of fresh air in a genre that had been done to death in the past and is still recovering. So if you just look at the ingredients per se, not much has changed and you should not expect a dramatic change in sound, but the melodies are even more irresistible than they had already been, but more on that a little later.
Upon listening to the album for the first time I sometimes felt reminded a little of older TRISTANIA (around “Beyond The Veil”) due to the use of double-bass a little or old, old THEATRE OF TRAGEDY (some of the vocal interplay and the atmosphere), but despite that DRACONIAN are no copy-cats, no worries. Anders Jacobsson’s growl fits the often bleak melancholy very well, while Lisa Johansson sets the melodic counterpart, sometimes angelic, sometimes a little deeper and more aggressive, which lends the song a surprising twist, while overall it is not the often found “beauty and the beast” dialogue type of thing, but two different elements used to the best effect, same goes for calmer breakdowns that will offer you a little breather before the melancholy takes over once more.
While the whole album stands out in the context of the sub-genre, three tracks stand out of this, “When I Wake”, “Earthbound” and “Morphine Cloud”, with the latter the maybe best track the Swedes have ever penned. “When I Wake” is a very intense track, which sets out as pure Doom, but then enter Lisa with a darker and deeper approach, which works great with the almost menacing melancholy that the song conveys. Then “Earthbound”, which once more embodies the amalgamation of some Gothic and a lot of Doom, with great interplay between the soft voice of Lisa and Anders’ gruff growl as opposing extreme, great track, but then “Morphine Cloud” takes the cake with its irresistible riff, which is like the epitome of Doom and melancholy, the dark cloud over the sun, the drenching drizzle falling from the low hanging clouds, the autumn storm tearing the last leaves off the trees’ limbs, while maintaining the silver lining through the angelic voice of Lisa amidst the gloom, a brilliant track!
The rest of the tracks is far from filler material as well, roughly following down the same lines, even though the three mentioned tracks are the standouts among a thoroughly strong album. The production from Fascination Street Studio is flawless, having a clarity and power that enhances the compositions with all of their details and moods, rounding off one heck of an album, which will be a big challenge to both competition and the band itself, the latter when they will have to come up with a worthy follow up!
(Online March 19, 2008)