Draconian exploded on the death/doom scene with their “debut” Where Lovers Mourn. It introduced a medieval texture to the scene with their gothic inspired lyrics and a mix of old doom influence with brand new ideas. However, before this debut, Draconian released a handful of demos containing less developed songs that appear on their first two records as well as some that didn’t make the cut…until now. The Burning Halo could be considered a mini CD as it is compromised of only three new tracks, three re-recorded demo tracks, and two covers. It worked as a solid release that restrained the wait for Turning Seasons Within.
Firstly, the three new songs are some of the best songs they’ve written up to this point. She Dies places you in a new dimension with its mesmerizing guitar/keyboard lines, while the lyrics tell a story in a rather Romantic era style about your love slowly dying in your arms. Lisa Johansson and Anders Jacobsson are without a doubt the best vocalist pair in the metal genre, playing off each other lyrically and emotionally to contribute to the tear-filled atmosphere the music create. Through Infectious Waters is the most rhythmical out of the tracks, and seems to borrow structure from orchestral arrangements while retaining the orchestral feel with the heavy passages. Possibly the most apocalyptic piece the band has written, especially due to the lyrical topic. Finally, the most doom oriented track, The Dying is a slow paced, emotional juggernaut that uses guitar and vocal lines to weave the song’s arrangement. Lisa’s parts are some of the most beautiful of her career, and the drums do a fantastic job by never overplaying, but still maintain a strong rhythm.
The next three tracks from The Closed Eyes Of Paradise demo have been re-recorded, slightly re-written, and re-arranged so that Lisa has parts to sing, for she only joined the band just before Where Lovers Mourn, so there were no female vocals in the past. They are all very gothic metal sounding, with heavy layers of synth and harmonizing instruments. You should notice the songwriting is not as strong as you’re used to with the band, but they’re nonetheless enjoyable and give an insight to how the band’s sound started out.
The two covers, on the other hand, are very interesting. On Sunday They Will Kill the World, originally written by Ekseption, carries on the apocalypse feel lyrically while Draconian re-arrange the song to use its 70’s atmosphere and splice it with their melancholic style to produce one of their most interesting arrangements, especially during the fast paced classical approached piano break. Forever My Queen is the long-awaited Pentagram cover. Johan Ericsson has long cited them as a main influence, and now gets to sing the clean vocals while Anders adds his uncompromising growl on top. A bit unexpected and somewhat out of place sonically, but a solid cover either way, plus it’s hilarious to hear Anders scream “Shake it baby!….babaaaahhh!”.
Even though it’s not technically a conventional full-length release, it’s a great way for the band to explore a new sound for a few tracks, while introducing many people to their past as well as other influences. It comes across as an idea that chooses to give that much more to the fans than just an EP. If you’re into any era of the band, this is definitely worth checking out.