Theatres Des Vampires
It’s hard to believe that Italian Goth metallers Theatres Des Vampires are back with their tenth release and first album in five years. These vampires have had quite a lengthy journey which began in black metal, then went into the extreme gothic realms of acts like Cradle Of Filth and Anorexia Nervosa, before it settled right into what I’d consider a keyboard-laden brand of electronic Goth metal. According to Metal Archives, the band now consists of three of it’s longtime musicians, Zimon Lijoi (bass), Gabriel Valerio (Drums) and Fabian Versi (Keyboards) who’ve been here since ‘97’s The Vampire Chronicles. Sonya Scarlet still handles vocal duties, but the aformentioned handle additional backing vocal duties as well, and you’ll hear that in several places throughout the performance. The newest member of the band is Giorgio Ferrante who performs the lead guitar on this record, replacing the revolving door lineup of guitarists that this band have had for several years now. However, he does manage to prove his mettle and seems the right man to lead these vampires on their next excursion.
A reviewer over at Metal Archives compared the style of 2008’s Anima Noir to The Birthday Massacre, which is definitely what I’d consider here as well. There’s no more occult/Lilith/Lucifer style lyrics here anymore, which is kind of a drag – but the band obviously wanted to go for something more accessible as you can tell by listening to the record. It is obsessively keyboard driven and contains more downtuned guitar riffs than you can imagine, even though there are some important leads crawling into the mix as well as a couple of notable solos. I didn’t find Scarlet’s vocal approach to be to my taste in most songs, but that isn’t to say that you’ll feel similar. It just didn’t work for me here. I found her strongest moment on a piece called “Pierrot Lunaire” which I’d certainly recommend as one of the disc’s main standouts. Alternatively, I found “Seventh Room” to be the band’s most abrasive track, with some hints of harsh vocals along with a slight tinge of what this band used to be. Much of what has been here has already been done by similar acts like Theatre Of Tragedy and Lacuna Coil, even though there are some more aggressive sections sprinkled throughout. Even so, brutality is certainly not the name of the game here.
Obviously Theatres Des Vampires’ Candyland is the kind of Goth record with a certain audience in mind, in addition to a feminine vocal touch which sounds almost Romanian in it’s attempt to utter forth a sort of Draculina approach to these dance-friendly atmospheres that seem almost at home in a Goth club. There are some operatic excursions as well, which we don’t hear from Scarlet often, even though I find them more memorable. The record actually closes out with a piano driven piece called “Autumn Leaves” which more or less finishes the record in the standard fare for most Goth records. I don’t think it’s worth getting upset because Theatres Des Vampires have come back from a five year break to release another Goth metal record. That’s just the kind of band that they are now and obviously there will be fans for that style. They’ve obviously worked very hard on this disc and I’m sure there are a lot of Goths out there who will be chomping at the bit to get their claws on it. The disc offers about forty minutes of playing time, with the overall feeling of most electronic female-fronted Goth albums. It is definitely the sort of “what you see is what you get” atmosphere, from a band that isn’t about to pull any punches. I’m a bit reminded of the Gothic metal/rock of my younger days and would personally liken this to the work of mid-era The Dreamside. Fans of more guitar-driven acts in that vein should find something here, but I just feel like I’ve heard this all before. Even so, there are those out there who probably haven’t and perhaps this mix of blood, downtuned guitars and keyboard synths will suit them perfectly.