Mandrake

Innocence Weakness

Written by: PP on 13/09/2010 22:06:25

For being such a gothic and dark album in its pretense, "Innocence Weakness" sure opens with an explosion of warmth. The bright melody oozes of optimism and inviting harmony, and on top of that vocalist Birgit Lau shares a similarly emotional and easily likable voice. She successfully avoids the genre pitfalls of sounding either too operatic, too silky, too powerful or generally too anything, hereby already offering the first valid point that makes Mandrake sound so different to any of their stereotypical peers. About fucking time some band decided to deviate from the boring, uninspiring 'standard' usually given to us by the gothic metal bands. Anyway, instead of sounding sad, miserable and hopeless, the sonic picture that I'm getting is happy and hopeful, especially when contrasted with the melodic growls in an alternating vocal dynamic. Good stuff, with the potential to be great in many places.

The second point that distinguishes Mandrake is the way they treat the obligatory symphonic element. Instead of sounding dramatic and theatric, the band opts to leave these purposefully on the background, allowing only the rare high-pitch keyboard melody in front of the mix, again fortifying the summery, happy feel that floats around the album. There are doomy elements in the mix as well, and droning death metal passages to complete a wholly versatile album that has something for everyone, but without sounding unfocused or incoherent at any given time. "Save Us From Ourselves", for instance, is nearly melodic death metal, whilst "A Serenade To The Sea" reaches deep into the gothic realms with its back-chillingly beautiful chorus melody that makes it the best song on the album. And that's not an easy pick, by the way, because "Innocence Weakness" is jam-packed with superb songwriting that leaves a surprise waiting behind every corner. "Among The Demons", for instance, brings momentarily to mind Saturnus and other epic/fantasy doom metal bands, but then "Innocence" is a pure ambient piece for almost four minutes, allowing some soft and calm instrumentals to take over.

So as you can see, Mandrake have successfully created a breath of fresh air in a genre that has felt stale and boring for the better part of last decade. The songs are all good in their own right, offering different perspectives and approaches on the genre, leading me to believe there are some very creative individuals behind the band who are all able to mix in their ideas to create a seamlessly working product that, if there was any fairness in the music industry, should elevate them to the elite of the gothic/symphonic genres. I mean come on, listen to the riff of "Autumn Infinity" and tell me you don't find it attractive!

Download: A Serenade To The Sea, Save Us From Ourselves, Autumn Infinity
For the fans of: Lacrimas Profundere, The Gathering, My Dying Bride, Evig Natt
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.05.2010
Grau

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