Artist: Diary of Dreams
Title: Elegies in Darkness
Genre: Darkwave / Electronic / Acoustic / Goth
Release Date: 14th March 2014
Label: Accession Records
Last Friday, DIARY OF DREAMS have released their new studio album, ‘Elegies in Darkness’. Already before the release, the band has offered snippets to all songs to the fans with mostly positive response from their side. But when it comes to CD reviews, the band has not only to convince their long-time fans. And so, a new album might be criticized in many ways. Our review contains opinions of two writers that are different but still the final rating of both is quite similar.
First, we have the review of Ray:
As a critic I suppose retrospection is the greatest enemy of the guild. It happens sometimes albums I’ve reviewed to lose their lustre. I remember when DIARY OF DREAMS released ‘Ego:X’. The album was great or so I thought (and wrote about) but eventually I failed to develop a personal connection with it. The album seemed without a single hint of spontaneity, or of creative madness if you prefer. I can now describe it as the industrial product of a gothic factory, charming at first sight, but eventually forgotten.
But now we have band’s 11th album. Will the retrospection cancel it out? I don’t think so. Although on that front there are good and bad news. The good news is that the ‘Elegies of Darkness’, on the whole, is by far catchier than its predecessor(s). The predominance of the guitars shows the rougher side of the band, a side that tended to be obscured by the overworked melancholy. There are some songs that will send you to the dance-floor, if not of the club, at least of your mind. Songs like ‘Malum’, ‘the Luxury of Insanity’, and ‘Daemon’ rightfully deserve to take their place among the band’s classics. All three of them combine perfectly Hate’s motifs of melody, sorrow and aggression.
The bad news is that the band has included in the album songs that are of secondary quality [always this is the author’s opinion] such as ‘a Day In December’ – which also has the worst cliché goth’n’divorce lyrics, probably of all DoD’s discography, the lukewarm ‘Stummkult’ – a rather typical hybrid of low tempo guitars and electronic music, and the uneven ‘the Game’ in its generic resemblance with the average DoD type of songs. The problem is that throughout the whole CD the dead metaphors have a substantial role, and seem to appear in the most inappropriate places. How many times can I listen about “the darkness in me” and all its variations?
To return to the good news section, despite of the fact that the album has left me with mixed feelings it is also true that I was eager to listen some songs over and over. Besides the ones already mentioned I have to add the ‘Dream of a Ghost’, catchy Goth song with 80’s kind of synths, and the ‘House of Odds’, an intense Darkwave anthem. So it’s not all doom and gloom but it is a dust off of the band’s known old abilities, and some of its limitations, wrapped up in the very idiosyncratic style of DoD. An interesting album for sure, but “Les Fleurs du Mal” it isn’t.
As a second writer, Sebastian was listening to the album and here’s is opinion:
So, there it is. The long-awaited successor to 'Ego:X', which, by the bars set by the band themselves, was quite a weak offering. Too little gripping material, something to strike you etc. With the new 'Elegies In Darkness', you definitely can't complain about a lack of cohesion as far as the sound department is concerned. The album kicks off with 'Malum', phasing in with the creaking of a door that ultimately enables a wall of sound sneaking through the cracks. The song is presented in the band's mother tongue German, which happens a lot more on this album than you're used to. From a massive, noise-inflicted bastard with orchestral outbreaks to rather easy-listening grounds we go with 'the Luxury of Insanity', which is a very typical song for DoD if you're familiar with the band's discography. This one might just as well be suitable for a club if you'd tweak it a little here and there. The scheme continues with 'StummKult', something in the vein of well-known tracks as 'the Curse', just injected with a little more industrial and aggression. Personally, 'Dogs of War' is the strongest of the first four tracks on the album, even though I liked the opening very much.
There may be no re-invention, but the density of this track's atmosphere is simply stunning. I'd compare it to 'King Of Nowhere', just with a much darker edge to it, which brings me to 'a dark embrace'. It harks back to the days of the 'Nigredo' cycle and would have fitted the corresponding album perfectly. There's just one fundamental difference in my opinion. Where the aforementioned tracks where strictly bound to the mythological concept and the words riddled, this one feels much more personal and direct in the way the lyrics are being transported. “Odd“ is by far the best term to describe 'House Of Odds'. The build is, regardless of its carefully interwoven melodies harsh and lyrics are being reduced to the absolute necessary. Even while I'm writing this, I'm not sure what to think of it. Piece of work is the best I can come up with at the moment. If that work leads to a positive or negative result in the end, I cannot say right now. 'The Battle' is sounding most organic compared to many of the offerings from before and has many traits of a rock track, breaks where you'd not expect one etc. Anyway, it is a direction worth exploring further for the band. The “Outro“ 'Die Gassen der Stadt' ends the album quietly in an acoustic fashion that is very intriguing and haunting.
Well, and now the conclusion. I think I hinted at it earlier above in this little write-up. 'Elegies in Darkness' avoids the weaknesses of its predecessors by going back to what I call confined territory for DIARY OF DREAMS. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, because that is where you can bring the best results, and the songs are indeed much stronger, but they also tend to fall back into already trailed and tested formulas. You catch yourself thinking “Hey, I've heard that melody somewhere before, or the rhythm the vocal line etc.” If they do break out, however, it leads to impressing results, and that's why I wish to hear more courage to sonic experimentalism on the next record; something that makes people say “Hey, that's still DIARY OF DREAMS, yet it's completely different”. So, is it a bad album or not? No, it's not, it's still a very solid release that you can immerse yourself into for a long time. Just by their standards it could have been better.
We got the regular edition for review. The limited edition contains four more extra tracks.
01. Malum (4:53)
02. the Luxury of Insanity (5:57)
03. StummKult (4:53)
04. Dogs of War (5:26)
05. a day in December (4:12)
06. a dark embrace (6:33)
07. the Game (3:53)
08. Dream of a ghost (5:37)
09. Daemon (6:00)
10. House of Odds (4:16)
11. the Battle (5:27)
12. die Gassen der Stadt (3:16)
Regular Edition: tot. time: 60:29
Additional tracks on the Limited Edition:
13. Mythology of violence (4:15)
14. An empty house (4:30)
15. Remedy Mine (5:28)
Limited Edition: tot. time: 74:44
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Total: 7.5 / 10
Total: 8 / 10