Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Drained - Solutions (2009) 84/100.

Dylan K., or Witchlord as he is regularly known as when partaking in all matters to do with his one man entity Drained, is no stranger to standardised depressive black metal with a specific European flavour to it. Taking influence from some of Europe’s big hitters like Hypothermia and the doomier Trist, Witchlord has produced a stellar debut in the form of ‘Solutions’. Like the two aforementioned bands, Witchlord performs entirely by himself and does a good job at cementing Canada’s place amongst the top countries in more recent years. Although Drained don’t follow Canadian traditions, which seemingly involves breaking modern traditions by producing innovative bands like Gris, they’re conventional when viewed in comparison to much of the modern day scene. I would urge newcomers not to expect Drained to follow in the footsteps of other Canadian bands because Witchlord doesn’t attempt to do anything new, or ground breaking with the release of ‘Solutions’. However, the title for this potential future classic does act as a metaphor for its problem solving abilities as it offers a solution to fans who have become somewhat disillusioned by the state of the depressive scene.

As I’ve already mentioned, Witchlord seemingly takes influence from his European counterparts and does his utmost best to produce something along the same lines of Trist’s doomier epics and Kim Carlsson’s slower, majestic pieces like ‘Rakbladsvalsen’, or perhaps even ‘Köld’. Whether or not it is just a coincidence that Drained have a similar sounding texture to Hypothermia, I do not know, but I would certainly consider this a positive. Of all the bands to take influence from in this much maligned scene, Hypothermia are amongst the best of them. Everything from the texture of the distortion of the guitars, which reverberates around the soundscapes with power and presence, to his vocals, every single aspect can be highlighted and seen as a direct result of what the aforementioned two bands have been achieving in Europe for the last several years. It’s no surprise that their music has begun to increase in influence across much of Europe, and the rest of the world, because both bands have records which can be viewed as the pinnacle of achievements.

From the awe inspiring ‘Köld’, to the monumental for of Trist’s ‘Zrcadlení Melancholie’, both bands have achieved success through hard work and innovative styles. It is obvious to see from the work on ‘Solutions’ that Witchlord is perhaps trying to capture some of that glory but recreating the same sounding material but, at this early stage, his material is still a bit rough around the edges. Although there is no one area that poses difficult questions which cannot be answered at this stage to the listener, there is a feeling that Drained could do with their own source of inspiration, perhaps sparking up their own feeling of innovation within the listener because the audience will find no new ideas here. However, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, Witchlord is a truly capable musician with several good ideas. Incorporating the doomier, slower side of Trist into the pleasing distorted textures of Hypothermia’s guitar outlet is a magnificent aspect. Of course this band were going to please me because I’m a huge fan of the two main influences. Due to this, Witchlord has worked out how to fuse awe inspiring melody into the background whilst maintaining the feeling of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Each song, as with Trist especially, tends to blend into one huge wall of distortion. The atmosphere conjured up by these four songs, two of which were taken from the debut demo, is incredible. As songs like ‘Dream Forever’ slowly begin to showcase, Witchlord has a habit of creating subtly entrancing main riffs which don’t tend to deviate much. There are normally two set leads in every song, one playing a low lying riff and being heavily distorted and the other being cleaner and raising the atmospheric presence of the songs. It’s in this second riff that most of the joy comes from. The production does a fantastic job at highlighting one as a thicker sounding riff and the other as a thinner sounding riff with more momentum to it. The bass doesn’t have much of a say, but it usually doesn’t, so I stricken that from the record when thinking of possible negatives about the record. Aside from the guitars being the usual domineering force, we have the Kim Carlsson-esque vocals leading the way, too. Witchlord has tremendous screams, but does deviate from this less than original style by placing some throatier screams in between the carnage of repetition.

Lyrics have rarely been important with this style because the vocals are indecipherable, but one certainly gets the feeling of depression, social phobias and suicidal tendencies from the crushing atmosphere, which squeezes the life out of the listener with its claustrophobic feel. Given the fact that Witchlord’s other band, Circle of Ghosts are meant to be an ambient black metal band with doom influences, it’s easy to see where the idea of this band has come from when only taking his past history into account. His experienced song writing skills have done him well here as he capably gives ideas like depression and suicide a voice. So, in conclusion, as I’ve said, Witchlord doesn’t provoke a feeling within me that I’m experiencing a new wave of depressive black metal, but he does indicate to me that he might not be just a flash in the pan and that he could possibly become Canada’s leading force within this sub-genre in years to come. With bands like Hypothermia and Trist becoming more and more quiet over the years, fans will need someone to fill the void and perhaps Drained are the solution to this nerve wrecking problem. A wonderful debut nevertheless.

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