Label: Razar Ice Records

Review by Mortuai

Unsurprisingly given the success of a particular band who shall remain nameless for the moment, Italy has recently become a relative hotspot for gothic metal bands like Bari’s Godyva (not to be confused with Swiss classic metallers Godiva). Founded in 2000, the group went through a few lineup changes and released an EP before being discovered by American label SorceryStudios/Razar Ice in 2005, who signed them to a three-album deal, the first of which was 2006’s “In Good and Evil” and the second is my current subject of review, 2008’s “Planetarium”. Quite frankly, I have to admit I wasn’t greatly impressed by the band’s debut full-length as an overall band product. The problem I found with it was the same issue many gothic metal bands, most specifically, female-fronted gothic metal bands have, namely ‘it’s all about the singer and the rest of the group seems to be just going through the motions.’ In the case of Godyva, that statement is reinforced by the fact the band name and the female vocalist’s stage name are one and the same. The good news is that the past two years have seen some definite improvements. Longtime guitarist Frahn stepped down in 2007 and was replaced by Antonello “Anto” Addabbo of Italian melodic death metallers Reality Grey and the band as a whole just seems a bit tighter and more emphatic in their musical delivery as well as more willing to try stylistic experiments here and there. That said, a large part of the band’s appeal is still focused on the singer but that’s not necessarily a bad thing given the vocal talents of Lady Godyva. She has an impressive range, able to shift from deep, throaty tones to emotive melodic midrange to operatic soprano and back again seamlessly, oftentimes sounding like a blend of Tarja Turunen and Lacuna Coil‘s (okay, aforementioned ‘particular band’ no longer nameless) Cristina Scabbia and those two examples aren’t really a bad starting point when considering the group’s overall style, as there are some obvious influences of Nightwish and the ‘Coil in the music, though the latter stands out far more than the former. Also prevalent in the stylistic mix is a keyboard-driven industrial element very much in the vein of Rammstein, especially on cuts like the driving “My Inner” and the melodic-yet-crunchy “Innocent”, the latter of which also features one of two guest appearances from tech-death metal band Natron’s former growler Mike Tarantino. Of course the beauty and the beast vocal pairing concept is nothing new in the world of female-fronted metal but Godyva manage to pull it off well without making it seem like a gratuitous attempt to cash in on a well-known trend. Another guest appearance, however, does not work quite as well for me, namely the narration provided by Luca Bellanova of Rome’s electronica-metal act Starkiller Sound during the otherwise wonderful track “Mary’s Blood”. It’s a relatively short narration during a slower melodic segment but the way it’s mixed, it comes across as nothing but a distraction, making it difficult to focus on either what Bellanova is saying or Lady Godyva is singing had the narration stood alone, it probably would’ve worked much better and this would’ve been my favorite song on the album. As it is, it’s still an excellent song with some truly beautiful vocal and instrumental melodies. Yet more influences are obvious on other tracks, most clearly a strong dose of The Gathering circa “Nighttime Birds”, particularly on “Black Door”, where Lady Godyva‘s vocal style sounds eerily similar to Anneke Van Giersbergen‘s. That song is one of several high points on the album, others including the title cut, which features the album’s most compelling melodic chorus, energetic leadoff song “The Ark” and the bonus track, an acoustic rendition of “Innocent”(which wisely omits the death metal vocals). While Godyva the band isn’t likely to come as quite as much of a shocking surprise to people as the legendary nude horse rider they’re named for, they’re still definitely worth a look. Other than the largely-unnecessary intro instrumental, there really isn’t anything even close to a throwaway or what can be considered a ‘bad’ song on the album granted, there are no absolute world-killers either, but fans of gothic metal with an industrial touch will definitely find plenty here they can enjoy.

Rating – 75/100

 

Tracklist

  1. W.A.I.H.T.L.I.H. (Intro)
  2. The Ark
  3. Innocent
  4. Mary in Blood
  5. Deep Inside
  6. Planetarium
  7. My Inner
  8. Black Door
  9. On the Floor of Ice
  10. No Fault
  11. God Is Fallen
  12. H.I.L.T.H.I.A.W. (Outro)
  13. Innocent (Bonus Track – Acoustic Version)

 

Line Up

  • Lady Godyva – Vocals
  • Anto – Guitar
  • Botys Beezart – Keyboards
  • Nick Barah – Bass
  • Enyo – Drums  

 

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