Label : Out of Line Music
Review by Vard Aman
From 2004-2008, Dark Princess was a band that had perfected rather than pioneered the art of producing fairly mainstream Gothic Metal/Rock in a way that few of their counterparts had managed, including many of their more illustrious ones. They produced 3 full length albums and a compilation, which included some of the best songs the subgenre has ever had to offer; songs such as “Cry”, “My Fragile Winter Dream” and “Close to the Sky”; songs that I still listen to on a regular basis. So when I read that Dark Princess were about to release a new album I almost fell off my chair (in a good way). This is their first full length album since 2007, so the expectation was high. The brilliance of their lone single “We Can Not Fly So High” in 2009 elevated that expectation even further. Now that the wait is over and I have my promo copy of the “The World I’ve Lost” right here, it’s time to find out if the album lives up to those high expectations. I’ll need to give it a few more listens, and on more than one system and over a few days – as I usually do; once/one is never enough I find (old engineer/producer habits die hard). In the meantime, let me introduce you to someone by the name of Natalia Terekhova: Olga Romanova, who had become synonymous with Dark Princess, left the band in early 2008 due to personal reasons. She was replaced later that year by Natalia. A vocalist of the quality of Olga Romanova is hard to replace, so no doubt there must have been questions in the minds of fans along the lines of “Is she a worthy replacement and is she as good?”. Natalia answered all of those questions with a resounding “Yes!”. The single in 2009 was as good as anything Dark Princess had produced previously,and Natalia suited the role perfectly (and for those of you who are wondering if I have eyes in my head, yes, she is every bit as nice to look at as well – she is Russian after all…) Natalia Terekhova was already a name on the music scene, participating in several national and international singing competitions, TV shows and musicals (she’s a member of The Moscow Four).
She participated in the Russian qualifying finals for Eurovision in 2008 (Dima Bilan won – which he only did because he got rid of his mullet… well, OK, at least I like to imagine that was the reason) and again in 2010, this time with Dark Princess although she performed one of her own songs, called “Everything” (I forget who won that year, but I dare say it was probably someone not nearly as good). She also has a solo album out, called “The First Step”. She is a versatile and multitalented vocal powerhouse. And, above all, she is the new Dark Princess of Dark Princess! OK, on to “The World I’ve Lost”. The album starts off with “Fight With Myself”, which is an awesome track full of powerful guitar riffs, certainly one of the highlights off the album. Next comes the single “We Can Not Fly So High” and… things suddenly start to go a little wrong. The 2009 version of this song was better. My main reason for saying that arrives halfway through the song and is a problem that haunts the album in a few other places as well, particularly in the following 2 tracks; and that problem is the various synth sounds and electronic percussion. Half way though “We Can Not Fly So High” a synth that is often used in various kinds of Dance music comes in (there are several different kinds and variants of these synths out there so I can’t name the exact one used here). It sits just below the mix, not loud enough to be an integral part of the song but just loud enough to be a distraction and therefore really annoying. The next song, “Fields of Youth” has some percussion SFX that sounds like some sort of sucking sound; and the next, “The Key” has electronic percussion throughout. Why? They add nothing to the sound but instead provide a distraction from the excellent guitars and vocals that make these songs what they are, which therefore ends up taking something away.
What was the producer/band thinking? These songs would have been so much better without the synths and percussion SFX. I’ll finish off my list of beefs with the vocal effect on the sustained note at the end of the first chorus of “Fields of Youth” (again why?) and the male vocals later in the same song. Otherwise, both “Fields of Youth” and “The Key” are good songs with some beautiful and very catchy vocal melodies. Natalia saves the day! Things start improving (i.e. the distractions become less) from the next track onwards. “Everlasting Pain” is a good solid Rock/Metal song followed by “Paradise Land”, which is beautiful melodic ballad with folk influences and is another of the highlights off the album. Then comes “Point of No Return”, which is some more melodic Metal/Rock; and then a rock ballad called “The Temple of Darkness”. “The Temple of Darkness” comes with an interesting change at the end where Dark Princess start playing something in the vein of Doom Metal (and they’re as good at that as they are at everything else). “The Last Page” is more of a Gothic song, and is another of the highlights off the album. The synths and percussion SFX still turn up occasionally on the second half of the album, but in the second half they are used more appropriately and more sparingly so that they aren’t such an annoyance (it would still be better without them though). In the final song (on my promo version), “The Way of Passion”, the Rave synth is used again, but this time it is used in a way that really works and really adds something to the song. It is a poppy Rock/Metal song with a catchy, almost ABBA-esque chorus.
The track list that came with the press release lists another song afterwards, entitled “Caruso”, but it is not on my promo copy. “The World I’ve Lost” is Dark Princess’s most mainstream release to date. To people who follow the ideals of Manowar style metal-elitism or “Tr00 Kvlt”, don’t bother; to everyone else, if you like solid Gothic Metal/Rock, then this is a must have – it is full of great riffs, well written songs, very catchy melodies and, most of all, excellent vocals. So, to close off: – “Is Natalia as good as Olga?”- Yes, most definitely! – “Is it a good album?” – Yes, very! (Aside from the unnecessary SFX). – “Will fans of Dark Princess and of the subgenre in general like this?”- Yes, without a doubt! – “Is it accessible to fans of other types of Metal and/or to people who don’t like Metal?” – Yes, absolutely! – “Does it live up to the expectations?” Yes, to a point. – “Is it as good as old Dark Princess?”Hmm… – “…so close to the sky, the spirit of my sorrow…” – No, I personally don’t think so. But whether you agree with me on that opinion or not, one thing is for sure: Dark Princess is one of the best bands this subgenre has to offer. They have come far, and they’re going farther. Don’t miss out on this if you’re a fan of Gothic Metal. Actually, don’t miss out on this if you’re a fan of any kind of good solid Rock music. Actually, just don’t miss out on this, full stop.
Rating – 85/100
- Fight With Myself
- We Can Not Fly So High
- The Key
- Everlasting Pain
- Paradise Land
- Point of No Return
- The Temple of Darkness
- The Last Page
- The Way of Passion
- Natalia Terekhova – Vocals
- Aleksandr Lubimov (Saint) – Guitar & Backing Vocals
- Ilya Klokov (Wizard) – Guitars
- Stepan Zujev (Exumbra) – Keyboards & Backing Vocals
- Stanislav Fatyanov (Dogma)– Bass
- Denis Stekanov (Ghost) – Drums