Review Summary: Chick fronted gothic doomish metal from Germany proving the style of music isn't as outdated or washed up as Joey Fatone.
Creative and gothic metal don’t really go hand in hand like they once did. Back when Tristania, Theatre Of Tragedy, and The Third And The Mortal were prime time for crime time in the mid to late nineties, gothic metal was a refreshing new sub genre to jam out too. The mixing of doom and black metal with classical piano, soaring synth runs, and operatic female vocals was a success story boasting several unique and powerful entities to the growing metal scene. Nowadays, the gothic metal scene has grown enamored with soulless musicianship, generic and predictable songwriting, and mimicry resulting in several bands, too many to name, getting record deals and magazine whoring. For every Draconian there are thirteen watered down Nightwish’s, Tristania, and Xandria’s running around town like Tropic Thunder‘s Special Jack. It’s quite amazing to think that in college or high school when you plagiarized something you would generally receive a detention, a referral, or in college something more serious. Well the music world is littered in dumb-asses who find it necessary to get famous from completely aping somebody’s sound. This is where Flowing Tears comes in. Are you ready to get your Goth on because I’m ready to get my Goth on.
Flowing Tears was brought into my attention not too long ago by our resident dweller of darkness Jrowa who recommended me give this band a try. The German based outfit sounded appealing to me but it wasn’t until I heard the 2008 release “Thy Kingdom” that I was sold. While not completely original in scope, Thy Kingdom provides the potential for the genre to expand upon past limitations and incorporate new ideas. Unlike most others of this ilk, Flowing Tears show a large focus towards songwriting. Everything from the guitar melodies and riffs to the vocals and tasteful piano/ambient keyboard effects sound like they were given enough time to strengthen the music instead of coming off as uninspired filler. Thy Kingdom Come features a rather impressive display of loud to soft dynamics which work out pretty well and leave a sense of the unexpected to the listener.
The structure of the music seems to take much of its influence from the second wave of doom. Most notably Gothic era Paradise Lost, Nightfall era Candlemass, and even a bit of Third And The Mortal thrown in for good measure. I’m assuming the brains behind this operation is Benjamin Buss who along with playing guitar is responsible for piano, keyboards, programming, backing clean/harsh vocals, and most likely writing all of the music. Starting with the guitars. The riffs hit hard which I found pleasant considering guitars are generally a low point in a gothic/symphonic metal bands, Nightwish, After Forever, etc. The Candlemass and Paradise Lost influence is quite apparent as many of the slow to mid paced chugging patterns resemble those of the doom giants. Harmonies are excellent and merge perfectly with subtle keyboard melodies that underline the music instead of overpowering it. Solos also boast considerable skill and pave way nicely to the vocal talents of Helen. As a vocalist, I’d say her voice is quite distinct even though I hear similarities to a few other singers. Picture somebody who blends elements of Sarah Jezebel Deva, Riina Rinkinen, and even a few Christina Scabbia vocal patterns in the mix with her own voice and you sir probably have no clue how she sounds. Hell, on the track “Colossal Shaped Despair” Helen feeds off an impressionable chick version of Messiah Marcolin. Overall her voice is pretty heavy and powerful, a far cry from your general run of the mill siren whos ethereal pitch ushers in feelings of depression and boredom.
The drumming and bass playing form a solid rhythm foundation despite trudging through doom metal formations on a constant basis. The tempos are generally slow to mid paced at best often sacrificing speedy blast beats and pulverizing double bass for feeling and clarity. The instrumentation and vocals are wrapped up in fresh, baby face production which essentially means spit-polished and glossy. This doesn’t detract from the aggression at all though because when the male growls play off with the crunching wall of METAL! The effect is heavier than hell. Standout tracks include “Souls Of The Neon Reign and the incredible piano driven semi ballad “Kismet“. I feel no need in recommending this album to people because if you already enjoy this style of music then you should be on this like a fat kid on a cupcake. Or if you’re just out drinking and driving with your bro’s and want to pick up some Gothic honeys aside the local renaissance fair/ Lacrimosa concert then by all means acquire this. I for one settle with both, option A. and B.