Thalarion
Dying on the Scorched Plains

Holy fuck! Talk about a blast from my past!  Back in my early days at DigitalMetal.com, I loved me some Eastern European death/doom.  Back then, I covered a Slovakian band’s 2000 release, Four Elements Mysterium (still one of my favorites from the era/genre), and excellent, but less gothic doom 2002 follow-up, Tunes of Despondency. They quickly became one of my favorite bands in what I called then, the ‘beauty and the beast’ genre; gothic death/doom with harsh male growls and angelic female vocals.

2004s Hellium dropped the female vocals, keyboards, and gothic/doom elements and went full on melodic/progressive death metal but was still a pretty solid album. After that, I assumed the band was dead in the water. Well almost 20 years later, and out of the blue comes a new album on a new German label, Uprising! Records (not the 00s metalcore label) with largely the original/same lineup as the band’s first few albums, and they have not missed a beat, returning to their classic ‘beauty and the beast’, gothic doom sound.

At the core of the band’s sound is still Four Elements Mysterium and Tunes of Despondency vocalist Petronela Petronela Horváthová-Hederová, delivering mournful operatic croons and Juraj Grežďo who provides the excellent, gruff male vocals. Neither appears to have aged, sounding as they did back in the early 00s and they delivered a great, surprising reunion alum that recalls the albums mentioned above and is a great throwback to the style of the early 90s and early 00s.

Boasting a lavish robust production with lots of emotive keyboards from new member Peter Dvorák, Dying on the Scorched Plains has ample layers of evocative emotional gothic doom and occasional, sterner death metal moments. And this isn’t sugary, poppy, female-fronted gothic doom, it’s more like Draconian; a haunting, melancholic aura, and the death metal vocals are powerful and commanding. That said, Hederová has an alluring presence and cadence that is wise, yet sorrow-filled and beautiful. Just check out the gorgeous layering in “Burning Pile”,”Fairy Garden” or surprisingly uplifting “Back to the Light”. And when she plays off against Grežďo, it’s often brilliant as heard on “Dead But Still in My Heart”, “Wandering Minstrel” and the title track. And there is no shortage of riffs to complement the dual vocals like the sterner  “Sub Rosa” and “Into the Nowhere”, which at times, could be from Hellium sessions.

In an era (and for me, this year in particular) overflowing with uber technical death metal, polished black metal symphonics, and breakdown filled deathcore, Dying on the Scorched Plains comes as a refreshing dash of nostalgic, somber elegance, imbuing a time when bands like Love History, Godgory, Tristania, Theatre of Tragedy, Dismal Euphony, Haggard, and Beseech walked the earth.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 3rd, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: Juraj Grezdo

    Excellent! Thank you, Erik. We really appreciate this.


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