Released: 2013, Inverse Records
Clearly, there will be no abating in the proliferation of female-fronted metal, as My Reflection will attest. Formed in Finland in 2007, the music is mature and compelling. DREAMLAND DROWNING is the newest album from the band, consisting of twelve tracks, delivered as if it were still 2004. The promotional material compares the band to Evanescence, seemingly the only band that the Europeans think Americans know in female-fronted metal. This comparison is not completely without merit, but it really does an injustice to the band, as they sound more like early 2000s Lacuna Coil and Beseech, which is a compliment, when Räikkönen is singing.
After the first two tracks, I was ready to become a believer, singer Jenni Räikkönen delivering her lyrics in a comfortable and pleasing range with compelling melodies. Unfortunately, much good will was lost on the third tune, “Crossroads”, where dreaded and shitty male metalcore vocals spliced with a black metal croak trounced all over the tune. Why these bands insist on contrasting inferior and non-complimentary vocals with the true show piece of the band is a mystery to me. Räikkönen should be singing all of the songs, and it is funny that these keyboard laden tracks suddenly shift to near blast beat speeds to try and complement the metalcore vocals. Needless to say it makes for some disjointed songs, and like a good book that is instantly ruined by a horrible ending, that is all I can say about many of these songs. They are good songs when Räikkönen is allowed to sing, and turn to instant drivel when the songs suddenly shift into warp speed and crap vocals. “Stand Again” is a perfect example of how good this band could be, as Räikkönen sings the entire tune as well as “Sweet Freedom.” In turn, “On The Edge” demonstrates the significant drop in quality when she is forced to the sidelines. Only on album closer, “Farewell”, are the male vocals complimentary and clean, rather than harsh and abrasive.
Production wise, things are not as hi fidelity as they should be many frequencies sounding compressed and muddied but overall quite passable. In the end, the story of DREAMLAND DROWNING is an album that is about 60% good and 40% bad. I guess a lot of people like these crap male vocal styles mixed with their symphonic female vocalists. Lacuna Coil seems to still be successful, even with Ferro mucking things up from time to time, but in his defense he blows these two guys that deliver their reptilian croaks out of the water. What you have here is not true female-fronted metal in the sense of Within Temptation but a hybrid of female and male. If you like that hybrid, then you will probably enjoy DREAMLAND DROWNING. The rest of us can only hope that the band makes the right move and relinquishes all vocal duties to Räikkönen. Would have been a four with just her singing.