Gothic, symphonic Metal with a female vocalist, is that something that sounds familiar to anyone? Personally, I have a hard time getting intrigued when I read about bands in that genre. Many are the bands that have come to my notice throughout the years and I have listened to most of the bands that has been recommended to me. Most of them are bands that necessarily aren’t pure crap but very few of them has remained in my musical consciousness. Some I have quite liked while listening but none of them has lasted. With Ardours we get yet another one and since Gothic, symphonic Metal apparently isn’t my thing at all, I took on this record with a bit of skepticism although I really tried my best to have an open mind. Because, you’ll never know, this album just might be the one that will change my mind.
Ardours was formed back in 2015 by singer Mariangela Demurtas – last heard on Timo Tolkki’s Avalon’ latest album Return To Eden – and Kris Laurent, a multi instrumentalist who holds guitar, bass and keyboard duties on this record. When Demurtas joined Norwegian band Tristiania in 2006, she and Laurent already knew of each other and kept in contact, but it would take them an additional nine years to get their own project started. Four years in the making and now Ardour’s debut album is finally released with the help from Tristiania’s drummer Tarald Lie who contributed with both drums and lyrics. The press-release also said this is for fans of The Gathering, Lacuna Coil and latter-day Tiamat and since I do like some of the work of those bands, there just might be something for me here after all.
“What Else Is There” is an instrumental opener – upbeat, pompous and quite bouncy. On the orchestrated side of Metal it works as a path-way to the punchy and rhythmic “Catabolic” which holds a somewhat monotone drum beat in an uptempo but also varies with a passage that slows things down and heavies them up. Both symphonic and gothic, the tune brings forth memorable melodies but as a whole, it’s not an overly catchy tune. What we get proof of, though, is that Demurtas is a brilliant singer with a broad range, something I already knew from the Avalon record. The title-track is slower and heavier with a dark ambience. The verses are uptempo and holds some edgy riffing, both straight-forward an in-your-face with a tough punch rhythmically. I can’t say that the song stuck with me directly but that said, it do holds a very good refrain, catchy with gorgeous harmonies.
“Design” starts out electronic and with a mountain of synthesizers before some aggressive and rough Metal guitars comes chugging in. With both influences from the more modern aspects of Metal and Symphonic Metal, the tune takes a bit of a different route here and although it’s darker and pretty straight ahead, it’s also quite catchy due to the effective and direct chorus. Best one so far. Leading single/video “Last Moment” is both gothic and sullen but moves more into Hard Rock than actual Metal but still heavy and pounding. The song goes in an uptempo but when they reach the chorus, the tune slows down some. It’s melodic all the way through but it’s the refrain that brings on most of the pop-vibes, making it catchy and accessible. No wonder they made it the first single. Single # 2, “The Mist”, follows – slow, heavy and dark. Goth laden with lots of synthesizers it’s smooth and atmospheric, even haunting but also quite rough with a striking main-melody and a refrain that sticks. Good one.
In a faster pace and a bouncy groove, “Therefore I Am” joins in with a bit of a Gothic feel and a touch of electronic music. It’s a melodic Metal track but a bit unstructured with a messy arrangement which makes the catchiness get lost which in turn makes it hard to grab a hold of the tune. “Truths” is a tuned down, edgy and dark Metal belter. It’s ballsy, stompy and kicking on a straight-forward note but not diverse enough and I lose interest halfway through. “No One Is Listening” brings on rowdy guitars but sooth melodies in a mid pace and a rhythmic drum-beat. It’s a heavy song with a strong melody arrangement but despite that, it doesn’t linger long for me. Ok, but not more. The album closes with the upbeat and straight-forward “Totally”, a symphonic Metal track with a goth-laden arrangement. It’s quite intense and a bit aggressive but I have difficulties embracing the melodies – it’s just not catchy enough. It’s not a bad song, though.
Either it’s just me who just don’t understand this kind of Metal or it’s the song-writing here that just don’t go all the way because I find this album underwhelming. I’m not gonna put any of the musicians down because their performances are flawless and miss Demurtas is an excellent singer – that’s not even under discussion. Apart from the song-writing not being all that satisfying, the songs aren’t varied enough either and no matter if the song is slow or faster paced, the arrangements seem to be repeated in song after song – there’s just not enough variation. Maybe hardcore fans of this kind of music begs to differ here but for me, this kind of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation in a blender goth-rock just doesn’t work. Not bad but not that interesting either.
1. What Else Is There
3. Last Place On Earth
5. Last Moment
6. The Mist
7. Therefore I Am
9. No One Is Listening