Draconian – Under a Godless Veil (Napalm)

Tuesday, 27th October 2020
Rating: 8.5/10

An act that within more recent times, has become one that doesn’t exactly drop new albums frequently, a fresh Draconian release tends to call for some celebration, in a gloomy fashion of course. The first bit of new content since 2015’s excellent Sovran, Under a Godless Veil carries with it the same magnitude and sense of melancholy that you’d expect from the long-running doom band.

The gothic side of the band, championed by female vocalist Heike Langhans, is a source of serene beauty. An almost ethereal vibe beams in songs such as the gentle “Burial Fields” and “Night Visitor,” where Langhans takes centerstage, but it also forces its way into other cuts like the occasionally rumbling “Lustrous Heart” and “The Sethian.” The merger of brooding, lumbering riffs and Anders Jacabsson’s potent roar with these more tender feelings gives the band more room to work some magic than your standard death/doomers that solely stick to the tried and true growling. While some beauty and the beast elements are going to persist because of it, but Draconian does their best to avoid the more clichéd tropes that can come with those elements. In the end, it’s all about that emotional payoff and Draconian is well-versed in building up some really precious moments as bookending tracks “Sorrow of Sophia” and “Ascend into Darkness” can attest to. The length is well used to give the tracks some wiggle room without abusing it, both delivering a combination of driving segments with enough slowdown and ethereal musings to give you a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

Draconian continue to pump out some of the most emotive doom around, with sets them on par with the best in the genre. Under a Godless Veil checks off all of the morose boxes, and does it with a strong sense of elegance and grandeur to counter some more punishing moments of energy.

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