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Draconian - 'A Rose For The Apocalypse' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/8f/40/8a/1423_DraconianARoseForTheApocalypse_1310248769.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 09, 2011    
 
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A stunning album and a great welcome back for Draconian.

It seems to have been forever since the release of Draconian's last album. 'Turning Season Within' finally appeared in the early months of 2008 and after promoting it for a while the band appeared to drop off the radar. Until now that is. February 2010 saw a posting on the band's website that they were starting work on some new songs, and news slowly trickled through of progress in the studio. In the meantime, of course, the excellent Shadowgarden album – Shadowgarden being the brainchild of guitarist Johan Ericson – 'Ashen' appeared, which also featured Draconian's Lisa Johansson. 

So, has the wait for album number five been worth it? The answer is emphatically yes. I will admit to having a soft spot for Draconian anyway, but 'A Rose For The Apocalypse' is a towering body of work which, if there is any justice in the world, should propel them into the upper reaches of the genre. There is, after all, a void now left by the demise of Theatre Of Tragedy and Draconian could easily be the band to step up and fill those shoes. In fact album opener 'The Drowning Age', a driving and dynamic slice of goth metal, could easily be torn from the Norwegians' songbook; and that's not to accuse the Swedes of plagiarism, just an attempt to illustrate what a great composition it is.

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The album deals with what male vocalist (and founder member with Ericson) Anders Jacobsson calls the "vast dilemma we're all facing as one species; the horrors and contradictions we've created in our 'nature-divorced' system. The title refers to the collapse of this structure, built by mindless human opinion. It also refers to the necessity of its demise. We are trying to capture the gloom of its realisation. I don't know if we'd want to call this a conceptual album, but most songs certainly deal with the same topic in one way or the other." As a result, 'A Rose For The Apocalypse' is as gloomy and goth-tastic as they come. It's downbeat but prepossessing, menacing yet inviting, so both lyrically and musically it's a bitter-sweet box of delights. Imagine Paradise Lost without the sense of humour… Songs like 'A Phantom Dissonance', for example, with its captivating vocal interplay and contrast between some understated guitar work and sledgehammer riffing, work beautifully and bring out the desolation in Jacobsson's growled lyrics. Never has desolation sounded so bleak. And never has the newly-blonde Lisa Johansson sounded better than on 'Elysian Night' or 'The Death Of Hours'. Fredrik Johansson (bass) and Jerry Torstennson (drums) provide a solid backing over which Erikson and rhythm guitarist Daniel Arvidsson can weave their magic, and the two vocalists top everything off with pain and pathos.

On the downside, at sixty-five minutes it's a bit long for such a deep, ominous body or work. I don't know if there's a vinyl release in the offing but that would be a great way to break things up a little. But maybe that's just me trying to spoil the party. 'A Rose For The Apocalypse' is a stunning album and a great welcome back for Draconian. For completists, there's a limited edition digipack with a further track 'Wall Of Sighs'; and for Draconian, great things beckon…

John Tucker

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