Review Summary: A beautiful soundtrack to the inevitable end of the world.
Interestingly enough, A Rose for the Apocalypse
feels like it could be Draconian's last ever album. Not that I'm doubting the future career of the eponymous Swedish death/doom metal group or anything, but a mere listen to every one of the album's ten tracks will make you ponder the as-yet-unknown direction of Draconian's musical direction. I say this not only because of the obvious fact that the album's core subject matter is plagued by, well, the inevitable end of the world, but because we simply haven't heard any life-changing news for Draconian for two years. Sure, after the release of the band's latest album in 2011, a few line-up changes would take place, namely the understandable exit of long-time female singer Lisa Johansson (who was replaced ten months later), but beyond that it seems Draconian have been absent from the world of metal itself.
A Rose for the Apocalypse
does what it says on the tin, essentially. The band's fourth full-length effort glorifies the core sound which made albums like Where Lovers Mourn
so monumental and important to Draconian's growing relevance in the death/doom metal sub-genre, and that's essentially it. Yet for the fourth time in a row, they make it work incredibly well for the most part. Opener “The Drowning Age” is sprawling with fluent, mournful instrumentation and Johansson's unforgettable female touch throughout the seven-minute playtime. The opening song does just what it needs to do in laying down a blueprint for the rest of the songs to follow, and the instrumental performance simply feels like the icing on the cake.
However, for those who are looking for something new from the band, this is where the highlight also serves as a common flaw-the undeniable fact of relying too much on a specific sound. Fortunately enough for Draconian, this doesn't seem to affect A Rose for the Apocalypse
that much, but there are times where the band appear to be going through the motions. Shorter songs like “Dead World Assembly” and “A Phantom Dissonance” are affected more than others because of this, and it's convenient that more epic, atmospheric numbers like beautiful closer “Wall of Sighs” should detract from this flaw.
At the core of the album's intent however is the idea that you're basically listening to the soundtrack which accompanies the end of the world. No uncommon subject matter for the death/doom metal sub-genre, of course, but Draconian are one of those bands who can genuinely lift your spirits and at the same time make you feel hopeless under the crushing weight of the frequently tight rhythm section. With lyrical content which adds a much-needed slice of gothic poetry to the mix (The drowning age no longer waits, born through hollow eyes/Feel the wind, behold the scourge, come closer and watch it rise
from “The Drowning Age”), this subject matter is made ever more convincing, and within an hour or so you're convinced that the end of the world really is coming sooner rather than later.
That said, it is clear who A Rose for the Apocalypse
will appeal to, and the same goes for the previous three Draconian studio albums. The band's core sound and other various elements used to portray the darkest of life's worst sorrows just goes to show how far Draconian have come since their formation in 1994. Though the band's fourth album develops little variation from the main musical formula, it remains one which is career-defining and should make fans of the death/doom metal sub-genre fall in love instantly.