Released: 2011, Compact Records
Portugal’s Urban Tales are a talented young band that is carrying the goth metal standard that was forged by influences like Paradise Lost and Anathema into the modern era. LONLINESS STILL IS THE FRIEND is the band’s second album, released on indie label Compact Records. It follows the well-received full length debut, 2007’s DIARY OF A NO. Four years is a considerable amount of time between albums, but that time was not wasted. LONLINESS STILL IS THE FRIEND is a mature and melodic album that showcases all that is right while leaving out much that is wrong with goth influenced metal today. The band fuses elements of HIM and Sentenced with shades of Paradise lost to create an eminently listenable and enjoyable modern goth metal sound.
Opening track “Silent Cries” pays homage to the best goth metal band ever in my opinion, Paradise Lost. The song opens with a quote from Charles Manson, just like “Forever Failure” did on Draconian Times before kicking into the same general melody as “One Second” from the album of the same name. However, the band quickly establishes its own sound, content to keep the tribute short and avoiding wholesale aping. I am also on board with singer Marcos César, whose warm vocals are similar to a lower range Ville Vallo and are a huge part of this albums appeal, and best heard on the tasteful HIM-influenced dark ballad, “Stand Alone”. Thematically, the album accurately captures the depressing moods of loneliness with mature and emotional lyrics, crystal clear production and strategically placed samples.
There are a couple of other things that have impressed me greatly about Urban Tales. First they have avoided the female-fronted cliché so popular in this genre, and they have kept the keyboards to an important but subtle minimum. Similarly, the songs are arranged compactly and to the point, avoiding overly complicated material that helps the melancholy and depression of the songs resonate. Urban tales has created a perfect blend of brooding sadness and aggressive gloom while constructing catchy choruses and well-executed ballads. For fans of Paradise Lost, Anathema, latter day Sentence, and HIM this album is almost certainly a must.