Draconian was founded in 1994 and released a few demo albums until 2003 when they released Where Lovers Mourn. Every two to four years since then, Draconian has consistently released high quality, gothic death/doom. I own Arcane Rain Fell and listen to it quite frequently, and I have loosely followed the rest of their discography.
With their latest release, Sovran, Draconian continue to develop their sound with a replacement for Lisa Johansson. I am not sure why the previous vocalist left, but Heike Langhans does an incredible job alongside the growled male vocals. The dichotomy of the two impressive vocal styles have always been the unique aspect of Draconian’s sound. The songs flow effortlessly from beautiful and melancholic to brooding and aggressive. The female vocals are quite fragile at times, but they can also be powerful, especially when coupled with the growled vocals.
One complaint I have about Draconian and similar bands like Swallow the Sun, is the overly dramatic spoken word sections. I understand that they are trying to build some contrast and drama, but I would rather have an instrumental section build the atmosphere. Sovran has some eye roll-causing spoken word moments, but they are not as bad as their previous work.
Draconian aren’t reinventing anything and they are steadily refining their gothic death/doom sound, almost parallel with the career of Swallow the Sun. While Swallow the Sun may have a bit more diversity in tempo and playing style, the same tragic atmospheres are present. Draconian play at a very consistent pace and most of the songs on Sovran are quite accessible. The songs are thoughtful and carefully composed, and the fluid songwriting can felt by the cohesiveness of the instruments. Each instrument complements each other gracefully, and the great textures of the guitars tie everything together.
I have listened to Sovran over five times now, so Draconian is doing something right for me. It is great to work to because of the consistent quality of songwriting, and beautiful moments found throughout the album.
(9 Tracks, 63:16)