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Sunday Old School: Draconian

Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time (don't judge me for that reference, your sister probably watched it every day as a kid too,) but in metal terms, it's something which has really come to be a prominent aspect of the dark and depressing side of the genre. Many bands have utilised the method, that of a male growling vocalist and a female clean singer and today we'll be looking at one of the most acclaimed bands to do so, Sweden's own, Draconian.

The band came together in the town of Säffle in 1994 when drummer Johan Ericson, guitarist Andy Hindenäs and bass player Jesper Stolpe came together and formed the blackened death metal band named Kerberos. After seven months as a trio, they recruited vocalist Anders Jacobsson and changed their name to Draconian and in 1996 released their first demo, "Shades of a Lost Moon." It was an ambitious debut recording, featuring guest flutist Jessica Eriksson, who also performed guest vocals along with Susanne Arvidsson, who stayed on as a clean vocalist.

After recording a second demo, "In Glorious Victory," which they were unhappy with, two members were called up for military service and progress slowed down somewhat. They did however begin performing live for the first time in 1998 and were met with a positive reception from audience members, which encouraged them to return to the studio and record more material, surfacing in 2000 in the forms of the two track demo "Frozen Features" and a demo album, "The Closed Eyes Of Paradise," their last recording to feature Susanne Arvidsson, while other lineup changes soon followed, most notably the departure of Andy Hindenäs, leading Johan Ericson to switch to guitars and a new drummer named Jerry Torstensson being recruited.

A fifth demo, "Dark Oceans We Cry," which marked the debut of new clean vocalist Lisa Johansson and received great reviews and fan reaction, was released in 2002 and finally earned the band a record deal, signing to Napalm Records after eight years of hard work. Their debut album, "Where Lovers Mourn" followed in October 2003 and met with a positive response among doom and Gothic metal fans and was mostly comprised of songs from "Frozen Features" and "Dark Oceans..." including a reworked version of "The Cry of Silence," widely considered one of the best Draconian songs.

"Where Lovers Mourn" was succeeded in 2005 by a sophomore full length, "Arcane Rain Fell," a concept album which dealt with the fall of Lucifer and creation of Hell. It received very positive reviews and remains one of the most popular releases among fans. Speaking of which, it was fan demand to hear more re-recorded versions of songs from "The Closed Eyes of Paradise" that inspired their next album, "The Burning Halo," which consisted of new versions of three new songs, as well as new takes on the "Closed Eyes..." songs "Morningstar," "Serenade of Sorrow" and "The Gothic Embrace," plus two covers, including one of the Pentagram staple, "Forever My Queen."

In 2008, the band released their fourth album, "Turning Season Within," another concept album which focused on the doomed relationship between two lovers. It earned the band further recognition from critics and fans, the latter of whom had noted that while Draconian's albums followed a similar formula, it still sounded fresh and interesting. They hit the road and performed regularly for a while before announcing on their website that they were returning to the studio to record their next album, which they claimed would be more akin to their early work.

The result was, "A Rose For the Apocalypse," which was released in 2011 and spawned a music video for the song, "The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight." It again received great feedback but in November of that year, Lisa Johansson quit the band in order to spend more time with her family, resulting in a search for a new female vocalist, culminating in the appointment of South African singer Heike Langhans the following year.

Draconian then spent the next two years performing live and introducing fans to their new singer before entering the studio to record with Langhans for the first time. The result was, "Sovran," released in October 2015 and produced by Jens Bogren, who had worked with the band on "Turning Season Within," as well as such bands as Opeth, Rotting Christ and Paradise Lost among many others. Fans were relieved to hear that Heike Langhans proved to be a great replacement for Lisa Johansson and that she brought her own ideas and lyrics to the band. At present, the band has been forced to lie dormant while Langhans sorts out her visa, which has been delayed massively due to the influx of refugees to Sweden. Fans and long time followers will be plenty aware however that once this issue is sorted, Draconian will be back and ready to unleash gloom straight from the pits of Hell.

Draconian - "The Cry of Silence"

Draconian - "A Scenery of Loss"

Draconian - "She Dies"

Draconian - "Seasons Apart"

Draconian - "The Last Hour of Ancient Sunlight"

Draconian - "Stellar Tombs"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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