Every once in awhile, you find an album that is simply a masterpiece. Maybe it is a unique debut that a band could never live up to again. Or maybe it came after years of hard work and perfecting their craft. The latter is the case for Draconian‘s stunning new release, Under A Godless Veil. The critical reception of the band has always been good. Still, the band wasn’t quite reaching their potential. The addition of singer Heike Langhans on their last album, 2015’s Sovran was the step the band needed to take. Now that she’s fully integrated into the project, they have become truly otherworldly. This is a result of the unique interplay of her melodic vocals with the deathly growls of Anders Jacobsson. The band’s huge advances in songwriting only go further into this.
Under A Godless Veil is so interesting because every song is a duet. The mix of clean female vocals and twisted death metal growls is one that hasn’t really been explored deeply enough in metal. Few bands do it as more than just an experiment and rarely has it been executed as well as it is here. On this album, the dual nature of the vocals is deeply explored over the course of its hour-plus run time. While Langhans does indeed handle the majority of the duties, it is her balance with Jacobsson that makes this such a special offering.
A track like “The Sacrificial Flame” is an early example of how the band handles this. Dual lead vocals, again, are a huge highlight of this track. Yet, perhaps the premier example of this on the album is “Sleepwalkers”—a definite standout track. The twin vocalists nicely balance off of each other while simultaneously leaving space for massive melodies.
That’s ultimately what makes this a step forward for the band. The songs give the melodies space to breathe without sacrificing the song structure. Even the longest compositions are elegant and thoughtful in execution. Tracks like the almost poppy “Lustrous Heart” are able to draw on this and deliver a crushing sense of sorrow.
Draconian nicely avoided symphonic metal tropes in the name of expanding their sound. The end result is something where the songs reign supreme and the emotional depth is simply stunning. Few modern metal acts can really lean into this overarching sense of emotional fulfillment. The years of hard work that went into this album have more than paid off.
More than a quarter of a century into their careers, Draconian have put together something that is simply masterful. This is an album that builds on the lessons of bands like My Dying Bride and Trees Of Eternity but takes it so much further. It’s music that is so much more emotional. It guides us into a place of heartbreak so powerful that it can’t help but to bring the listener to tears. Under A Godless Veil has all the makings of a classic. Why not get lost in its glorious layers? One can only hope that this record has the outsized influence on the scene that it so clearly deserves to have.