~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,
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.
2.) Starfish Ride (For A Million Dollar
4.) Children Of The Sun
5.) The Marching Sane
7.) Portsall (Departure Song)
9.) The Carnage People
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: