Ardours – Last Place on Earth (Frontiers)Thursday, 15th August 2019
A collaboration between Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania) and Kris Laurent, Ardours first release sits as a pleasant experience that sits in a bit of a grey area. There’s parts of gothic and symphonic metal, as well as some ‘80s new wave and rock influences. It comes together to make something that feels somber without being too depressive, as well as upbeat without being too sugary in tone.
The new wave elements combine with symphonic metal in a way that gives off some vibes akin to some synthwave bands, but with a more genuine metallic backing. It’s a cool sound for sure, and even if one can pick apart some of its basis, there’s not much out there currently that sounds quite like what Ardours have going on. The gothic bits that the band clings to have a bit of that early Lacuna Coil vibes to them, offering some extra gloom to coat the mixture of the sources. “The Mist” is one of the album’s finest tracks, and between the gothic atmosphere, churning riffs, ‘80s-esque synths, and Demurtas’ angelic croons it feels absolutely spellbinding to the listener. The almost relaxed, somber tone is first introduced on the excellent moodsetting “What Else is There” and “Truths” as well as popping up in a few more places, and offers a counter to some of the more uptempo tracks. “Design” and “Totally” hit the intended bullseye here, with crunchy guitars and ethereal build-ups (particularly in the latter track) from the synths give them a certain catchiness that doesn’t quickly lose its appeal. Lastly, as it should be on an album like this, the vocals of Demurtas have an enigmatic quality to them – she can allow for a majestic chorus or an atmospheric dip into melancholy as the music requires with plenty of passion.
Last Place on Earth is a fascinating release. The electronics feel entirely on point with the metallic aims of the band and elevate them into something more unique and powerful. Ardours have really hit a particular sweet spot if you enjoy gothic moods.