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Released: 2002, Century Media
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
“Dreary” is a good word to use to describe SERPENTINE, a new album from the German “goth-metal” band Flowing Tears. While this word would be pretty complimentary when discussing certain bands--for instance, “dreary” would count as a rave review of a doom metal band--I can’t say I mean it in a particularly complimentary fashion here.
Flowing Tears are a group of excellent musicians, fronted by the talented vocalist Stefanie Duchene. However, I can’t say I was particularly moved by anything on SERPENTINE. Some tracks are very good. The title track, for instance, reminds me a lot of Sundown, a very short-lived “dreary metal” band that I liked very much. “Breach” is also pretty heavy and gloomy in the way that slow, atmospheric metal should be gloomy. Unfortunately even on these tracks, the heaviness of the guitars--which is considerable--is often overshadowed by the un-energetic nature of the rest of the music, especially Ms. Duchene’s vocals. Bassist Frederic Lesny should be particularly singled out for excellent musicianship. From a songwriting standpoint, the potential here just isn’t utilized. This album is technically excellent, but just doesn’t “grab ya.”
My criticism is necessarily subjective, and fairly subtle. The overwhelming emotion conveyed by SERPENTINE--as with any metal or almost-metal band with goth influences--is depression. Very good metal bands/albums who choose this as their predominant emotional message (Bethlehem’s DARK METAL, for instance) are successful at conveying that message in a way that suggests violent, jagged turmoil, even though the music isn’t necessarily fast or particularly violent. Flowing Tears, however, conveys the kind of depression that has you sitting at home on a Saturday night doing nothing. That’s what it sounds like: sitting around being depressed. The emotion is there, but its manifestation is a little mismatched for the music they’re trying to play.
Some fans will probably really enjoy SERPENTINE, but I confess it did little for me. Ah, well, I may be the wrong kind of listener for “dreary metal” in general. If I’m sitting at home depressed on a Saturday night, it would take but a small dose of Edguy or Blind Guardian to cure me from feeling the way Flowing Tears sounds.
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