Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review: Todesbonden, "Sleep Now Quiet Forest"

Female-fronted bands, especially the soprano-style, haven’t fared very well in my reviews recently. By and large, I’m a little tired of that style, but just as I’m ready to write it off completely, along will come a record that really connects with me. That’s the case with the latest from Todesbonden.

This is how the style should be done. Rather than layering those vocals over typical power metal riffs as so many bands do, Todesbonden bonds the music and the vocals beautifully. There are Celtic influences, Middle Eastern influences, classical, medieval balladry, and, of course, metal.

Rather than simply trying to impress the listener with her vocals, singer Laurie Ann Haus uses her complete range to complement the songs here. Though she’s the creative power behind the band, the focus is not always on her vocals either. On songs like “Surya Namaskara,” her chant is but one instrument in an instrumental that builds to a nice, crunchy metal crescendo.

Album opener “Surrender to the Sea,” is more akin to what you may be used to hearing from this style of music, but it has much more in common with Blackmore’s Night than Nightwish. That’s the key on Sleep Now Quiet Forest - everything here comes off as more authentic than other bands in the style. The mournful gypsy fiddle that pervades tracks like “Trianon” and “Fading Empire” is striking. The keys are at times mournful, at times playful. There’s a real reverence for the classical instruments and styles that they weave into their music. In fact, I might go so far as to call this a world music record that happens to have metal influences rather than the other way around.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The record still rocks on tunes like the aforementioned “Surrender to the Sea,” the dramatic “Sailing Alone” and the epic “Battle of Kadesh.” Todesbonden just knows when to use the metallic emphasis and when not to try to force it into a tune.

Certainly, Todesbonden won’t be everyone’s pint of ale, but those who enjoy true traditional folk sounds with their metal should be pleased.

Get "Sleep Now Quiet Forest."

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