Lorelei - _Ugrjumye Volny Studenogo Morja_
(BadMoodMan Music, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
This one would have been dismissed too quickly had I not encountered some pretty positive responses towards this album, mentioning it as a really cool gothic metal album without falling into the gothic metal clichés, or in other words: gothic metal for those who dislike gothic metal. I had to give it a try.

Lorelei's _Ugrjumye Volny Studenogo Morja_ (my broken Russian tells me it has something to do with waves and an ocean, as I couldn't find any proper English translation) does not veer so far off that it couldn't be dubbed as typical gothic-oriented melodic doom/death metal album, almost generic in presentation and songwriting, yet a tad different in execution -- or more accurately, in the orchestration or the choice of instruments (if you regard the human voice as a musical instrument par excellence, indivisible from the rest); and that difference, manifesting itself through the well-thought tunes -- as minute as it may be -- is all the difference I need in order to render this album as time well spent, as well as being a worthy addition to my collection as an artifact of musical excellence.

Lorelei's debut is by no means a herald of a new musical direction in gothic metal, although it sets some new standards within this doom/death niche. This very album could have passed as nothing more than a decent ultra melodic doom/death metal album of the romantic kind; well played and well produced, indeed, but still, rather unspectacular. It could have settled for the usual classic rock combination of guitars-bass-drums and a male growler and still it would have sounded pretty rich and engaging, although not far removed from the plethora of (typical) bands of the 'Russian doom boom' we have all been accustomed to, courtesy of Solitude Productions and its numerous satellite sub-labels.

However, Lorelei have decided to incorporate into the recording a genuine opera singer by the name of Ksenia Michaelova, and this fragile-looking figure makes all the difference in the world between mediocrity and sublime transcendence. Her strong, vivid, robust, melancholic soprano vocals -- their scope and power in stark opposition to the frail and delicate-looking woman who creates them -- are among the best vocal expressions metal music has had the honor of exploiting. It may sound cheesy, I know, and pedestrian, but I'll tell you what it is most certainly not: cheesy and pedestrian. Her vocals, the true wonder of the recording, make the music a soaring and vital entity of beauty and pulsating sadness, enabling the album to quantum-leap from redundancy to total wonder and awe.

Not since Penumbra's _The Last Bewitchment_ have I encountered such a potent and accomplished gothic metal beauty; not because I have cast a complete veto on this form of art, but simply because there aren't many godly expressions of what is known as gothic metal out there. Case in point: I can't really relate to any of Solitude Production's gothic-tinged doom/death metal albums of the passing few years -- just can't, and not that I haven't tried...

_Ugrjumye Volny Studenogo Morja_ is one of those albums that beg further exploration, deleting all cynicism and scorn when they are thoroughly studied. Sweeping, larger-than-life tunes that are on par with the beauty of the soprano singer's massive voice, played perfectly and with much zest and color, and two very capable vocalists -- the bestial growler and the angelic nymph -- make this album a perfect 'beauty and the beast' sonic dichotomy of the utmost higher order.

This album is art in the making, unfolding right in front of your ears and your gaping mouth, while in the process your jaw will slowly drop in disbelief that you're actually liking this release as much as you do...

Contact: http://solitude-prod.com/

(article published 2/3/2014)

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