Dea Marica - _Curse of the Haunted_
(Weird Truth Productions, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
There is not an easy way to describe Dea Marica's music using mere words; one has to actually listen to the album thoroughly in order to appreciate what's going on in this recording.

There's a great divide between the instrumental music composed and played by this British/Italian band and the phenomenal vocalist, who sort of wrist slaps you with his in-your-face velvety yet charismatic baritone voice, so polarized in comparison to the ballsy and heavy routine of the instruments; a dichotomy between the heaviness of the music and the utter celestial, comforting bliss offered by the vocals of Roberto Mura. His appearance on _Curse of the Haunted_ is stupendous and beautiful, a dichotomy that otherwise, given a different, more traditional treatment to the performance, wouldn't have worked so well, leaving an undeniable mark of singularity among its peers in the realm of melodic doom/death metal.

Albeit a well written album, with songs that are engaging and always melodic, smoothly flowing with class, robust dynamics and friendly harmonies, the band is heavily influenced by My Dying Bride's songwriting paradigms and even the production is on par with the latter's aesthetics. However, luckily enough, Dea Marica have dodged the obvious comparison by incorporating a vocalist that has nothing to do with My Dying Bride's Aaron Stainthorpe, and there lies all the difference you need: a vocal tone that resembles more Canaan's Mauro Berchi's than anything reminiscent of Stainthorpe's clear voice or growling phases. You might compare Dea Marica's Modus Operandi to that of Britain's The Prophecy, but be assured, the former is a lot better on every account.

Mr. Mura's clean singing is what distances this album far and away from any further comparison, as it is a uniquely sorrowful, lamenting, touching kind of voice. Despite its apparent easy listening attribute, it does add a melancholic vibe to the music without sounding sugary or melodramatic, making the very album quantum leap from a mere, average yet decent, doom/death record to a must-hear grand opus.

It's almost as if Abysmal Grief have decided to boost their horror gothic doom with some doom/death metal, making it heavier still yet nonetheless foreboding and insidious, and even while the riffs fall occasionally into the style's familiar cliché pits, the beautiful vocals save the day and make it all work perfectly, compensating with their post-punk-meets-classical flair for whatever glitches the song writing suffers from, or whatever unintentional attempt at copying My Dying Bride (or even, to some extent, Paradise Lost) was going on during the writing of the songs.

In the end, _Curse of the Haunted_ is a magical album bearing some unforgettable moments of beauty and bliss alongside some terrifying and heart-breaking passages; a sixty minute ballad for the downtrodden and the discouraged.

The weakest moments are, obviously, the ones where the vocalist bursts into low growls; these of course diminish the overall magic of the album and make it sound a tad pedestrian, in comparison to the majestic transcendence exercised while the baritone is presiding over the metallic scenery, making everything other than those bewitching human vocals redundant in comparison to their richness and impact.


(article published 17/3/2014)

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