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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Song of the Week: Mandragora Scream - Dark Lantern


Well that's one evil scream to start the song off. If the starting moments of 'Dark Lantern' doesn't strike you as gothic, then you don't know what gothic metal is. As part of the Italian band Mandragora Scream's 2006 album, Madhouse, 'Dark Lantern' is quite an interesting track. Founded by Morgan Lacroix (a cool name if I ever saw one) and Terry Horn in 1997, Mandragora Scream regularly craft their music into concept albums that features rather prominent gothic elements to their music, more so than its metal elements that they can sometimes be classified under the genre of gothic rock. 'Dark Lantern', as it is, has a rather sinister beginning with its ethereal wails and synthesized growls but is otherwise almost exclusively sung in clean vocals and is quite mild really. Nothing really taxing for the ears.

In terms of its musicianship, 'Dark Lantern' is really quite simple. The 'boards repeat the same creepy tune over and over again, the guitars has very little to do 'cept for that bit near the end which I don't think can be even counted as a solo and the bass is chugging away on atmospheric duty. But simplicity is its strength- the song is not difficult to follow and the main melody of the song doesn't scatter into different layers at all. What deserves special mention though, is Morgan Lacroix's rather unique singing. Her voice can be rather deep and raspy for a female and if it weren't for the music video you'd be wondering about the gender of the vocalist. Her Italian accent (I think, or it could just be her own special way of pronunciation) also somehow accentuates the atmosphere of the song in a way that I can't explain. If any linguistic semiotics professor would like to leave a comment below, that'll be great, thanks a lot. Otherwise, I guess you just have to listen to get what I mean. Conversely, the harsh vocals done by (I think) the guitarist Terry Horn is surprisingly high pitched and should be considered as screams rather than growls. Still, that downplays the aggression and brings out more horror, which fits the theme.

Lyrically though, 'Dark Lantern' is barely coherent to me. I can't make head or tail about what the song is trying to say but I reckon the spinal cord is there. There's just a lot of lines that combines words that I'm pretty sure are never grouped together conventionally, which is bound to sprout some question marks at the top of your head, like "darklin' in light" for instance. What the heck is that?

All in all, 'Dark Lantern' is a rather nice song, and deviating from all mainstream genres, including metal. Its currently their most-played song on Mandragora Scream's myspace page. Mandragora Scream's latest album, Volturna, has just been released a coupla weeks ago, featuring a different line-up apart from Lacroix and Horn. I haven't gotten round to listening to it yet but if 'Dark Lantern' intrigues you enough, go ahead and pick up Volturna to give it a spin and tell me how you like it.

Below is the music video of 'Dark Lantern'. Check out the funky microphone~

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