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Where Angels Fall - "Marionettes" (CD)

Where Angels Fall - "Marionettes" CD cover image

"Marionettes" track listing:

1. Marionettes (Again) (4:15)
2. Freeze Me (4:40)
3. Freed On Depression (4:17)
4. Kyrie (5:08)
5. Mystifying Grief (6:02)
6. Invisible (4:25)
7. Freedom Is Finite (3:25)
8. Path of Sorrow (5:37)
9. Female Stigma (5:06)

Reviewed by on August 26, 2009

"'Kyrie' opens with a fantastic dark, cinematic intro of violin and piano that is simply gorgeous, bringing to mind some of the great old black and white horror films."

Female-fronted goth metal is one of my favorite genres. The music is usually dark and emotional, offset by lots of angelic soprano vocals and almost eerie orchestral sounds. Being a fan of classical music also, I like the fact that many times goth metal crosses the bridge between the two, adding violin and other deep-throated stringed instruments to the mix. However, Where Angels Fall failed to impress me with their release "Marionettes."

I will give them credit for the attempt made to mesh several sub-genres in "Freed On Depression." The mix of thrash guitar and power metal drum tempo gives an edge of excitement that lifts the listener out of the doldrums of the first two tracks. The drumbeat is sure to make you move, but unfortunately Eirin Bendigtsen’s vocals mess up this otherwise pretty good tune. There are also some male backup vocals that verge a bit too far into the emo category, but I’d be willing to cut them some slack if I didn’t have to listen to Bendigtsen’s nasally notes.

The next tune, "Kyrie," opens with a fantastic dark, cinematic intro of violin and piano that is simply gorgeous, bringing to mind some of the great old black and white horror films. At first, the vocals have a rich symphonic sound to them, but they suddenly take a turn and end up sounding much too much like Columbia from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Fortunately Bendigtsen stays out of the lofty first soprano realm in "Mystifying Grief," and the result is so much better I’d be tempted to call this the best track on the album. It’s a little emo, a little industrial, and a pretty good overall girl power tune with a nice orchestral breakdown. The only real flaw on this track is a high pitch buzzing sound that comes out of nowhere and sounds a lot like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. I’m not sure if this is a production error, or some unexplainable sound coming from one of the instruments, but the annoyance returns on the final track, "Female Stigma." It’s really unfortunate too, since both of these songs aren’t bad at all.

Instrumentally, "Marionettes" is mediocre. It’s not bad as far as goth metal goes, but there’s nothing that really stands out either. With the exception of "Freed On Depression," most of the songs are typical dark sounds, with steady tempos and almost indistinguishable guitars. There’s some unusual synth work on "Freeze Me," but that’s not something unheard of in the genre. The only real problem is the vocals, which sound so much like a girl with a really bad head cold that you get more and more annoyed as the album progresses.

Where Angels Fall has some potential in their genre, if they quit trying to fit into the overused mold of soprano vocals and unimpressive instrumentals. But as long as they keep trying to fit into the same box as everyone else, their music won’t be any better, if as good, as anyone else’s.

Highs: "Freed On Depression" is a pretty good, diverse tune, and the nasal vocals fortunately disappear on "Mystifying Grief."

Lows: Nearly all the vocals are nasally and too high pitched, and the synth work on "Freeze Me" is odd, at best.

Bottom line: Just another female-fronted goth metal act, but without the typically beautiful pipes.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)