Der Trauerschwan – Sanguinare Vampiris

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Reviewed: January 2023
Released: 2022, Soulseller Records
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes

Der Trauerschwan (“the mourning swan” in German) is a one-man project masterminded by Swedish musician Tristan Moreau, and Sanguinare Vampiris is the debut release. The album’s title, track names and gothic appearance of the promo materials make starkly apparent the focus here, which is on crafting something dark, immersive and foreboding.

Moreau chooses to do this with something that sits in between the black and doom branches of the metal tree, sometimes swaying one way, sometimes the other. The album has a whole has a clear and focused identity, but some tracks place greater emphasis on black metal’s harsh tones while elsewhere the more oppressive flavours of doom take precedence. Above it all though, there’s a clear focus on atmosphere and immersion, taking an atmospheric black direction like a more grim and depressive Agalloch or Fen. The actual atmosphere conjured is one that will likely be immediately familiar to black metal fans, for despite the lyrical focal point on vampirism, the vibe throughout the instrumentation is the classic one of chill landscapes and haunting ruins.

This direction doesn’t shift too much as the album goes on, though it’s at its best when leaning heavily into the doomier side of things. “Of Broken Vows and Sorrow” does this exceptionally well, full of depressive melodies that conjure the feeling of a dank, abandoned cathedral or manor full of nothing but mould and memories. “The Malady of Mortality” does similarly well with this, bursting with anguish and a sense of loss, even self-loathing, all carried across by the music. Sadly (and not in the good way) at the other end of the spectrum, album closer “Cor Cordium” has some alright melodies to it, but goes on too long for a track that doesn’t fundamentally do anything differently to the rest of the album, and doesn’t progress much across its 7.5 minute runtime. The vocals are also regularly a highlight, nicely twisted, harsh rasps but with a certain layering effect that adds a monstrous tone and fits well.

It might purely be a matter of personal preference, but Der Trauerschwan feels most effective for me when employing a solid doom grounding and adding those blackened elements as a harsh, crusty layer atop it all. More of that would be a welcome addition, though so too would be a few songs diving more fully into the black metal end of the spectrum, or doing more with the atmospheric facet of the music. All told, this feels like a good groundwork piece, but there’s definitely more that could be done with it.


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Tracklisting:

1.) Of Broken Vows and Sorrow
2.) To Where no Pathway Goes
3.) From Artery to Vein
4.) Sanguinare Vampiris
5.) The Malady of Mortality
6.) Out of Sight, Out of Mind
7.) Cor Cordium

Band line-up:

Tristan Moreau – All instruments, vocals

Websites:

www.facebook.com/trauerschwan
www.instagram.com/trauerschwan/?fbclid=IwAR1fk1_WSLhvNXOEYSPNQPu2dZaqjGS_pTSAJMkFrsNLek1qgX9ocFS5gVg
www.trauerschwan.com/?fbclid=IwAR28ODHLxYX-IL5cPyDPJ-WxZbYoeOjLdRswMVdlKCICHOGW4wwgjo_KLoQ
open.spotify.com/artist/24IICfC29qjxilZ96AcBa0