Flowing Tears 
~reviewed by Matthew
I don’t know about all of our readers, but I get pretty nauseated when I start thinking about the amount of ‘Goth Metal’ bands sporting female vocalists.  Goth metal is like, constantly bastardized.  It’s either too heavy, or it’s only a few dangerous steps away from sounding like hair metal ballads.  And labels don’t seem to be reluctant to contribute to this kind of musical excess.  What’s sadder is when the ‘good’ bands fall through the cracks or do not receive the appropriate attention they deserve because of the overexposure a lot of these bands have been getting.
Germany’s Flowing Tears are one of those ‘good’ though neglected bands. Way back in 1995 or so, when I was searching to find more bands like My Dying Bride and the like, I read about this band going by the ostentatious name Flowing Tears And Withered Flowers.  “Oh,” I thought “The despair.”   Nonetheless, I spent a good four years finally tracking down the debut album “Swansongs.”  I finally found the damn thing for like $4 on Ebay.  Upon hearing the album, I was extremely impressed.  It wasn’t necessarily as dark as I had hoped or expected, but the arrangements were impressive, very unorthodox, with melodies that sort of had you on the edge of your seat.  Death vocals and heavily accented clean male vocals.  It was pretty cool stuff and stood out like black Venetian lace in a sea of cheap vinyl.
Fast forward to today.  Only two of the original members remain, guitarist Benjamin Buss and bassist Frederic Lesny. They nixed the “And Withered Flowers,” found a female vocalist, and traded the dense Doom metal sensibility for a decidedly Goth rock flair. I missed the first two recorded products of their newfound line-up, but Century Media kindly passed along their latest and first official US release, “Serpentine.”
The strengths in song structure that I sensed back on the band’s debut release are developed to the fullest on this release.  The band is much catchier and straightforward in their compositions; however, they still sport a remarkable complexity and a plethora of refreshing reinterpretations of a somewhat stale genre.   And of course, there is vocalist Stefanie Duchene.  Unlike the wispy gals suffering from an exaggeration of operatic experience, Stefanie opts for a lower alto, a more natural and strong voice.  I hate making comparisons, but her voice reminds me quite a bit of Autumn’s Julie Plante and Dru from This Ascension.  Stefanie has the same throaty strengths, and exhibits quite a bit of melodic variety.   Flowing Tears made a very wise choice by putting this young siren at the mic.
The music itself is a very accomplished and noteworthy blend of Gothic Metal and traditional punchy Goth Rock.  The album starts off on a great tone, with the stark march of “Starfish Ride.”  I know my eyebrows were up quite high when the song first kicked in, and I did a double take when Stefanie’s voice first slithered across the booming drum cascades and dark guitar harmonies and into my ear.   An excellent track, with a solid wall of sound and atmosphere to support the verses, and a very catchy chorus – poppy yes, but far from sappy.  “Children Of The Sun” was the next big moment – deep lush bass strums along, watery guitars pan in and out of waves of low harmonized feedback and choral synths.  The drums slowly build and the song volleys between mopey swayable Goth rock and well-placed and playful epic power chord climaxes.    The more I listen to this song, the more I want to celebrate its mastery.  Really, this is cooler than anything Lacuna Coil has ever done, and The Gathering hasn’t been this interesting or effective since “Nighttime Birds” in 1997.
The cool thing about Flowing Tears is that they still retain their metal roots, they are still heavy – but you hardly notice.  It is like subconsciously metal.   I can’t really seem to find the words to explain how well these guys have blended their influences.  The Goth kids will hear the Goth, and the metal fans will pick up on the metal parts.   My fear for this band however, is that they couldn’t have arrived at a worse time.  A lot of people are really tired of this kind of stuff.  I think a lot of people might be turned off and think Flowing Tears another female vocalled Goth Metal gimmick.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  This album is interesting from start to finish, and has some unforgettable highlights.  I was very impressed with this album, and find it to be a worthy addition to the playlists of Goth DJs (Scary Lady Sarah has been playing them for over a year now <wink>), and the collections of both Goth Rock and Goth Metal fans. Flowing Tears are a band not to be overlooked – the more I listen to this album the more I fall rapturously in love with it.

Track List:
1.) Intro
2.) Starfish Ride (For A Million Dollar Handshake)
3.) Serpentine
4.) Children Of The Sun
5.) The Marching Sane
6.) Breach
7.) Portsall (Departure Song)
8.) Justine
9.) The Carnage People
10.) Merlin
11.) Cupid Of The Carrion Kind
12.) For Tonight

Flowing Tears is:
Stefanie Duchene - vocals
Benjamin Buss – guitars, programming
Frederic Lesny - bass
Stefan Gemballa – drums

Flowing Tears – Official Sites:

Century Media Records: