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Lacrima : A Story From Limbo

Perfectly balancing emotion, folklore, excellent yet unorthodox clean singing and a myriad of outstanding riffs: Poland's Lacrima.

Whether this album has got any Gothica in its music, or otherwise, is highly debatable. Also, if 'A Story From Limbo' is a Doom metal album, than everything out there is Doom as well; the music here is way too upbeat to be genuinely considered doom-related or oriented, and the melodic Death metal lines do not transgress an album from being whatever it is to anything Gothic-related, nor do the sporadic female vocals, for that matter.

But due to lack of endless descriptions of styles, genres and schools, one can understand why Lacrima has been pigeonholed into the whole doom slash gothic niche, as it does bring to mind both, but those couple of aesthetics are only mildly valid here. As it happens, Lacrima's 'A Story From Limbo' anthology couldn't, in truth, be branded with any immediate style or metallic genre, as the very nature of compositions and orchestration defies simple categorization, and in this case, it is a rather blessed virtue - the virtue that allows the band to experiment with a broader spectrum of sounds and approaches that are virtually boundless.

Given the fact this album is a collection of Lacrima's previously unreleased material spanning the band's 18-year musical career, now re-recorded and given a contemporary production, there's a certain degree of charming unevenness to the tracks; that mild fluctuation in aesthetics showcases the band's multifaceted approach to music. So there you have it; a band that roam across the full spectrum, from depressive rock to good old heavy metal, and in between they display anything from Dark metal to quasi-Doom metal backdrops, using in the process many alleged cliches as well as a lot of individualism. Surprisingly, every which way the band decide to go, there's a deep sense of musical know-how that follows.

In addition, Lacrima are among the few and select groups that exploit to the fullest the power of the keyboards and their incredible potential and ability to transcend the metallic display; when those are being used well, they have the capacity to really change the course of a song and add to it dimensions unmatched by the classic rock/metal ensemble. A song thus can transfigure from being merely some noisy rock or redundant metal track of the rehashed kind, to the exquisitely beautiful. Lacrima do succeed in streamlining their metal with their keyboards, delivering something that could have been a pale shadow of its shiny self had those charming keyboards been spared. Incorporating a full-time keyboard player into the core of the band's lineup was one of the wisest decisions this intriguing Polish band have made.

Lacrima is a marvellous band writing and playing marvellous music. The richness of the music is admirable; the song writing is simple and very effective, and although a strong odour of familiarity hovers above the recording, nothing here can be truly regarded as dogmatic or following specific trends. It's not like they copy anybody per se; it's just that the band follow a river of aesthetics that has been carved by the forerunners of the style, and thus they keep applying the same rules to whatever they compose. This album sounds so 'heavy metal', it's something you cannot but develop sentiments of nostalgia and familiarity with, due to the simple fact you do know a thing or two about 'heavy metal'. Now, don't you?

It's Heavy metal done right all the way, balancing melody galore with stupendous guitar work, both electric and acoustic, finely balancing the upbeat dynamic essence of the better part of the recording with a slice of plodding melancholy; this isn't, however, your habitual wrist-cutting misery that often sounds too fake to be really dealt with seriously. This is proud music done by people who are proud of their art - and it shows.

Think of the kind of cool sadness and mild dreariness Cemetary had captured on their 'Black Vanity' and 'Sundown' albums; nothing there was too heavy or extreme, but the music kind of took the listener to some unlit places, gently beckoning, emanating dark solace, the brooding sentiments overpowering the seemingly harmless music. Was it Doom metal? Was it Gothic metal? Maybe Dark metal? Or maybe was it sort of Depressive rock? None of the above and all of the above.

This is also the cool welcoming sentiment one will endure when spinning 'A Story From Limbo' for the first couple of times, but contrary to the musical content of the above-mentioned Cemetary recordings (especially 'Black Vanity'), Lacrima's music is ten times catchier and more fun listening to. The versatility of the musicians behind the music is commendable and the knowledge they exhibit in relation to Heavy metal is phenomenal, because here stands an album that breaths and feeds on Heavy metal; an album that is the converging point of everything that's fun, dynamic, catchy, melodic, sentimental and well, fun again, in the art of Heavy metal music. Have you ever wondered why quality Heavy metal (and when I say 'heavy metal' I am talking about the broadest sense of that term) often sounds greater than life? I mean, if that's art, shouldn't it merely imitate life itself and not become greater than it and ultimately overshadow life itself with its grandeur? So remember: every time you hear Heavy metal that sounds larger than life, acknowledge the fact this is Heavy metal done right, simply put.

Perfectly balancing emotion, folklore, excellent yet unorthodox clean singing (for the most part) and a myriad of outstanding riffs (too many to count) that compete between them over which of the lot is the grandest and most sublime, Lacrima's phenomenal 'A Story From Limbo' is an anthology worth seeking and exploring, as it opens a doorway to one of Poland's most inventive and colourful Heavy/Doom/Gothic/Rock musical assemblies I have had the pleasure of grazing my ears with. And we haven't even begun relating to the production, which is everything you wish a Heavy metal album would sound like.

If you like GOOD Heavy metal of the melodic and versatile kind, but also like it to be slightly unconventional and theatrical without ever needing to break your head trying to 'get into' the music, and you happen to dig Cemetary, Roots, Pyogenesis or Sisters Of Mercy, this album is going to fulfil all of your sonic desires. If you adore peculiarly sounding vocals (clean yet aggressive and slightly whiny), but are also drawn toward big-band folk metal music along the lines of Haggard - 'A Story From Limbo' is where it's at. Even the advent of musical cheese the album occasionally exercises does not harm the overall music one bit; these moments of corny pomposity, after receiving a special Lacrima treatment, suddenly sound rather poignant, fresh and rich, well-composed and finely executed, and that includes the female singer featured on a couple of tracks and the pedestrian death growls that sparingly appear throughout the recording.

What I'm trying to say is this: do yourselves a big favour and get this album whenever the chance occurs.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Trivial Wishes
2. Almanac
3. I Shouldn't
4. The Light
5. Epilog
6. The Time Of Knights Return
7. Chalice Of Memories
8. Black Funeral Rose
9. Backwards
10. Innocent
11. Alar Shadows

Duration : Approx. 57 minutes

Visit the Lacrima bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-11-20 by Chaim Drishner
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