Tuesday 30 July 2019

Lacrimas Profundere - Bleeding the Stars (2019)

Country: Germany
Style: Gothic Metal
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 26 Jul 2019
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I remember Lacrimas Profundere well but, like usual, I'm out of date. I know them from the early 2000s with albums like Memorandum and Burning: A Wish. I dug their slow but emotional gothic metal sound, which clearly had its roots in the doom/death that they played on their first couple of albums. However, that means that I only heard one singer, founder member Christopher Schmid, and mostly only one drummer, Willi Wurm. The line up has changed a lot since then, it seems.

For instance, I see that I missed out entirely on Rob Vitacca's decade plus with the band as Schmid's replacement, showing back up to hear the debut of Julian Larre instead. Drummer Dominik Scholz has just rejoined the band for a second stint, having been behind that kit from 2010 to 2013. Only main man Oliver Nikolas Schmid has stayed consistent throughout, having played guitar since 1993 and other instruments at points too. I apparently also missed the band's alternative phase, Bleeding the Stars marking a return to their old gothic metal sound after a period of a few years playing alternative rock.

I have to say that I'm still intrigued as to what that would have sounded like, but this feels like comfortable ground. Larre certainly has both the voices I remember: the deep emotion-laden voice that echoes the band's name, which translates from the Latin to "to shed tears", and a harsher but still melodic death growl. Schmid still sounds as I expect, that guitar tone very memorable I went back to one of my favourite songs, Without, and opener I Knew and Will Forever Know plays pretty well beside it on all fronts.

If the best thing about the album is that the very first track is strong, a welcome return to style and form, the worst thing must be that the rest of the album can't exceed it. Mother of Doom comes close, soaking its way into our bones and clutching hold. I've never found Lacrimas Profundere to be an easily accessible band. Even as a fan, it always takes me a few listens to fully grasp any new album, as if I'm reading a book in a foreign language I don't speak, but suddenly, out of the blue, it makes sense.

I can't think of another band that plays this way to me. Celestite Woman is just the less convincing track after the opener until I suddenly get it and it's gorgeous. The Kingdom Solicitude works similarly. Mother of Doom was a little quicker to grasp, because it's even more reminiscent of Paradise Lost and it's done exquisitely. There's so much aching emotion in the relatively straightforward chorus. They do this so well.

Another thing that Lacrimas Profundere do that most bands don't is to create songs that feel like they last far longer than they do. It's not like psych where songs can descend into instrumental jams that capture us so completely that we lose track of time. Nothing here exceeds five minutes and every song is carefully constructed. They just feel more epic than their running times back up. I was surprised to realise that Mother of Doom, for instance, lasts under three and a half minutes and that there's only one other song shorter on the album. It feels like twice that because it's a song to savour.

Having listened through seven or eight times to make sure everything's come clear to me, I think the best songs are in the first half, but that's not to say that the second half is slacking. The Reaper flows beautifully in brass and mahogany. After All Those Infinities features some wonderful melodies. A Sleeping Throne is another immersive Lacrimas Profundere track that becomes something special.

At this point, I'm very happy that this band is still recording and that the album at hand feels compatible with but evolved from those early recordings for Napalm. Once I delve back into their last decade of material, maybe I'll also add that I'm happy that they're back to their old style.

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