Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lullacry - Where Angels Fear Album Review

Lullacry put out their fist album way back in 1999. It, along with the 3 albums they would follow it up with in the following 6 years, showed a band playing around with a combination of gothic metal, some traditional heavy metal elements, and a dash of straight up hard rock aesthetic. They seemed to peak on their sophomore album and by the time they released Vol. 4 in 2005, they already felt tired, worn out, and simply going through the motions. Vol. 4 felt like the band didn't even want to try and simply slapped together a group of hard rock tracks, shuffling them off hoping fans would buy it. That was their final album before this year's Where Angels Fear.

Honestly, when I saw this was an upcoming release, I was quite curious about what the band could put together after being away for so long. Could they have finally found their focus and hit the sweet spot they were so desperately trying to find, putting all of the pieces together that were there in their previous efforts? The quick answer: nope. Knowing that, is Where Angels Fear at least on par with previous releases? This answer to this is a qualified "nope" in that it's not even close to what they created on their earlier releases and only bests their weakest album, Vol. 4, by a hair.

What hurts the band the most is their continued pursuit of simplistic and bland songwriting. They seem to be trying to add various differentiating elements to their gothic rock sound, but it never quite elevates songs to the point that they're interesting. For example, "Bad Blood" sees the band trying to be a bit more bouncy, energetic, and punky, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. They still resort to chunky riffs to bridge the verses and the vocals during the chorus feel forced while the background gang vocals are misplaced.

Not content to focus on their gothic metal sound, another experiment is "Still an Angel" where they seem to combine cheesy power metal lyrics and vocals with a hard rock song structure. It comes off as making a blatant play attempting to attract a broad audience beyond their core musical demographic. There are numerous moments where Lullacry are simple just for the sake of a broad appeal and, unfortunately, they're at their weakest when doing so.

Where the band excels is at creating gothic metal tracks. "Gone Are the Days" is a perfect example. The vocals stay within Tanja's range, there's a solid melodic bridge, the tempo is perfectly mid-range, and the thick guitar tones work to make the song nicely meaty. Lullacry are very, very good when they stay inside this realm… but for the majority of this album they continue to make attempts at branching out into genres where they just don't have the know-how to make it work.

Maybe it was too much to hope that 7 years would help Lullacry reorient themselves, especially after seeing that in 4 previous albums they couldn't ever really come into their own. They continue to show, frustratingly, that they have flashes of brilliance, but they choose to ignore them in their pursuit of other, simpler avenues.

No comments: