Label : Massacre Records

Review by Mortuai

So, what’s better for the femme metal lover than a talented band with an excellent female vocalist on the microphone? How about one with two excellent female vocalists? Cue “Porta Obscura” (“Dark Gate” in Latin), the sophomore release from Germany’s Coronatus (“Crowned” in Latin), an album which has been labelled as “gothic metal”, though I find it to be a lot closer to straight symphonic metal with elements of power metal, Celtic/pagan metal, and even a few hints of melodic black metal here and there. The two vocalists complement each other nicely, with classical soprano vocalist Carmen R. Schäfer‘s gorgeous soaring lines still holding the lion’s share of the mix over Ada Flechtner‘s melodic rock-oriented stylistics but overall it seems a bit more balanced than on the band’s debut album “Lux Noctis” (“Night Light” in Latin), where Schäfer seemed more dominant. As you might guess from all the Latin titles, Coronatus obviously likes variety in their choice of language delivery, belting out songs in English, German, and Latin – sometimes alternating between one or the other in the same song and always sounding equally comfortable no matter what tongue they’re using at the moment. On the one hand, it’s great for variety, but on the other hand, it’s a little confusing for me when I have no idea what they’re singing. Musically, as I mentioned before, this so-called “goth metal” band is anything but. Guitar riffing is razor-sharp, heavy, and crunch-laden, no doubt at least partially due to the presence of new second guitarist Johann Frey – who the bio sheet claims is a member of a prominent black metal band, though which one is not identified. Drumming is likewise excellent…which isn’t surprising given Mats Kurth was until recently also the drummer for black metal act Lyfthrasyr. Keyboards, piano, and synth choirs are prevalent but never overwhelming. Production is very good – personally, I would’ve preferred it if the guitar and bass tones had been a little bit heavier – particularly on the moments when the rest of the band drops out to allow a bass fill here and there – but otherwise it’s solid stuff. Again, one thing anyone seeing the term “goth” associated with this group might be surprised by is the overall upbeat feel of most of the songs. Tracks like “Mein Herz” (“My Heart”) and “Cast My Spell” are instantly stick-in-your-head catchy…particularly the former, which has ‘concert singalong’ written all over it, while cuts like “Exitus” and “In Silence” are flat-out symphonic power metal (minus the guitar solos, unfortunately – not a one to be found on the album). “Am Kreuz” (“At The Cross”) combines symphonic power metal sound with Celtic influences, a couple cuts like “Beauty in Black” feature bursts of melodic black metal riffage, and the explosive and accordian-laden (no, seriously) “Der Vierte Reiter” (“The Fourth Rider”) sounds a good deal like what you’d expect to get if you put female vocalists at the helm of Finntroll. In a way, it’s hilarious and ridiculous, and yet somehow they make it work really well. Despite the style shifts prevalent throughout, all in all, Coronatus is really just doing variations on a theme here – their style can be clearly traced back to a number of well-established acts…“Wishmaster”-era Nightwish is fairly clear in quite a few of the tracks, for example…but they blend enough different influences to keep them from sounding completely derivative of any one particular band. The dual-vocalist approach, well-written and heavy yet melodic music, and lingustic variety keeps “Porta Obscura” interesting and enjoyable from start to finish.

Rating – 80/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Prologue
  2. Exitus
  3. Fallen
  4. In Silence
  5. Beauty in Black
  6. Cast My Spell
  7. In Your Hands
  8. Mein Herz
  9. Am Kreuz
  10. Der Vierte Reiter

 

Line Up

  • Carmen R. Schäfer – Vocals
  • Ada Flechtner – Vocals
  • Jo Lang – Guitar
  • Fabian Merkt – Keyboards, Programming
  • Chriz diAnno – Bass
  • Matz Kurth – Drums 

 

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