Among the many bands that combine elements of Gothic music and traditional doom metal in their work, the Draconian Swedes occupy a special place. The members of this group can be called, if not pioneers, then one of the first who decided to experiment in the not-so-simple genre of heavy music, bringing fresh ideas and a new atmosphere to the established structure of doom metal compositions, making them more diverse and, as a result, interesting to a much larger number of listeners. In addition, several decades after its founding (Draconian was founded in 1994), the band continues to attract the attention of both experienced gothic/doom fans and those listeners who are just starting to get involved in this dark genre. By now, the Swedes have gained the well-deserved status of a cult group, and many of their works are rightfully considered classics of the genre. In short, Draconian is one of those teams whose cds must necessarily be in the collection of every self-respecting lover of heavy, dark and beautiful music.
It is believed that the late releases of the Swedish melancholics have lost much of the charm that distinguished their first recordings. Moreover, several times there were reviews, the authors of which accused the group of self-plagiarism and inability to further development. In my opinion, the accusations are absolutely groundless, which can be refuted by the latest Draconian album to date, called "Sovran" by the creators, the compositions from which are presented in this article.
"Sovran" was released in October 2015 on the Austrian label Napalm Records (here on Mazzar) and became the sixth official release in the band's discography. The word "sovran", chosen by the musicians for the title of their next work, is an outdated version of "sovereign" - a sovereign, i.e. a person with unlimited power in any state. The CD was designed by a fairly well-known artist and musician of Romanian origin, Costin Cioreanu; by the way, at one time he collaborated with such teams as At The Gates, Arch Enemy and Primordial. To close the issue with the design, I note that Mazzar did not stint and published the album in a chic matte digipack version, providing it with a very stylish informative booklet.
This album was the first release of the band recorded with a new vocalist, the charming Heike Langhans, who replaced the beloved Lisa Johansson, who left Draconian in 2011. With the participation of the new singer, a video was shot for one of the tracks of the album and, in general, such a radical replacement in the composition can, in my opinion, be considered quite successful. The "beauty and the beast" technique used by the group, i.e. the combination of high female vocals and a hoarse male growl, did not lose any quality from this replacement and, perhaps, even began to play with new colors.
The disc consists of ten tracks and lasts almost seventy minutes. Here, connoisseurs of the genre will find all the components characteristic of gothic/ doom metal - a slow tempo, heavy, oppressive guitar riffs, beautiful melodic lines, the already mentioned vocal duet, and most importantly - a melancholic, sometimes ominous atmosphere amazing in depth and emotionality. In addition to the usual Draconian elements, this work is characterized by a heavier sound, sometimes giving rise to associations with techniques more typical of medium-tempo death metal. Despite the very solid duration, the album does not seem to be delayed, due to the presence of very interesting arrangements and the general variety of compositions.
Summing up, I want to say that for me personally, Draconian were and remain the main European group working in the style of Gothic doom, undisputed favorites of the genre, despite the presence on the European stage of a considerable number of teams also worthy of attention. I am sure that many fans of such music will agree with this opinion.