Let’s take a look at Draconian‘s latest album a few months after its release, enough time to make a less instinctive and more reasoned assessment, as should be done for names of this calibre. The Swedish band has been, and still is, the virtual standard-bearer of gothic doom, a title won thanks to a handful of magnificent albums released in the last decade. But if Turning Season Within, the last of these, dating back to 2008, was already showing signs of tarnishing, A Rose For The Apocalypse sounded a little too licky and inoffensive to be able to match what had been done in the past. After several years, Johan Ericson’s band is back with this Sovran, an album in which the first thing that stands out is the change in female vocals, now entrusted to the South African Heike Langhans to replace the historical Lisa Johansson; Although the timbre of the new vocalist has a less lyrical and more ordinary mark, Draconian seem to have made a welcome step backwards in terms of sound, returning to show off a melodic gothic doom yes, but just as dark and recovering at least in part their trademark romantic and melancholic. If we can only greet with satisfaction this sort of reverse gear, it must also be said that the level of intensity that characterized the songs contained in Arcane Rain Fell and The Burning Halo is not equaled: today’s Draconian is a band that offers in an impeccable way the musical genre that has helped to raise to the highest levels, but the formal perfection ends up in the long run to overpower the emotional impact. Moments of great evocative potential (Dusk Mariner above all) resurface in flashes but, overall, it seems that Ericson’s darkest and most dramatic impulses have been mainly channelled into his splendid funeral death doom project Doom: VS. Mind you, Sovran is a very good album that will not disappoint those who love this kind of sound, strengthened by a tracklist that has no weak moments but also no peaks worthy of being remembered in the years to come and, in the end, this last aspect is the real flaw, especially when the band that is the protagonist is called Draconian.

2015 – Napalm Records / Raven Metal / Mazzar Records 2021 – Cold Art Industry