Review Summary: Sadly this album lets itself down in its closing minutes as until then it is a thrilling gothic metal debut with vocals unlike any other.10 of 11 thought this review was well written
Gothic metal is a touchy subject for many within metal circles. This may well be due to the fact that the artists place a heavy reliance upon keyboards and (primarily) female vocalists to create a depressing or dark sound. As Angels Bleed are unlikely to change these opinions but what they have done with their self-titled 2013 debut is create an emotional album that musically echoes the tortures the lyrics speak of.
The sound of the band is one that revolves around heavy but simplistic guitar riffs that create a rather dark backdrop with keyboards incessantly soothing you in the background but never failing to add to the foreboding atmosphere. This is not a gothic metal album that takes a minimalistic approach akin to Lacuna Coil or The 69 Eyes, however, as there are a few great solos scattered throughout that only serve to impress more, and when the band want to get more intricate with the riffs they are more than capable of doing so.
The vocals are something rather special on this release with Avelina De Moray possessing probably one of the finest voices. Obvious comparisons will be drawn with Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia due to both of them using a mid-range with a lot of higher notes as well, and also the fact that at times the guitarist Von Lehmann provides male vocals. However Avelina is arguably a stronger vocalist than the Italian band's vocalist could ever hope to be, with some confident and emotional vocal lines provided. She holds the best possible voice to sing lines like "a thousand suicides won't kill the pain of immortality" just due to the bleak and depressing yet amazing notes she is able to hit. The extended falsetto section halfway through Desire is a perfect example of this.
For a debut the songs As Angels Bleed have put together are very powerful and emotionally impacting with some honest and grim stories of death and suicidal thoughts being told in a graphic manner. The best song would be the aforementioned Desire which opens up with a simple but heavy riff and leads into a dual vocal line chorus, before the falsetto part mentioned before. After this we are treated to a beautiful and melodic solo that is not particularly fast but is incredibly melodic and carries a lot of weight to it, before another dual vocal section that involves Lehmann screaming in the background. Whilst on the subject of screaming, many of the songs on this release have some background screaming from the guitarist whilst Avelina sings her lines, and it really does help to make for a disturbing take no the gothic metal genre. There is an element of malice to the dual vocal patterns that is best shown in one song in particular.
A Love Worth Dying For uses the two vocalists interplaying their trademark styles to great effect. Avelina sings one line and then Lehmann screams another in a call and response manner and the way the band pulled this off without it sounding cheesy is something to be absolutely astounded by. This song also has miniature solo toward the end that is really well implemented and makes great use of a wah pedal and still sounds completely at home among the chugging riffs that the song uses. This is an album that only has one weak song and that is the final song on the album, Beautifully Decayed, which just drags on a little too long. The song is ten minutes long and opens with some great piano work which is a cool way to start it off and makes it more varied than much of the album and the first drum sections are much faster and more intense than what is expected so far from this album. Then it cuts off to more piano and Avelina singing over the top of it and it just feels too forced and the vocals do not fit the music.
This is a great debut from As Angels Bleed that deserves a lot of recognition and success. If the structuring and musicianship on the final song were a little tighter this would be a near-perfect album with one of the finest vocal performances in recent memory. Sadly, it lets itself down with that final song and is merely an excellent gothic metal debut.