Alwaid popped onto my radar courtesy of Aonia and their cover of Within Temptation’s “Never Ending Story”. The band were kind enough to send me a copy of their debut album which was released in March this year (2014, in case you’re in Australia and already in the future).
Lacus Somniorum has a theme and that theme is dreams, or at least sleep. Or the lack of it in the case of one track. The songs all target one or more aspects of the sleep state – insomnia, nightmares, unconsciousness, waking up, and so on. The album itself is divided into three “movements”: The Wake, Deeper Slumber and The In-between. The songs within these movements take on different styles and approaches which relate to the subject matter.
Fronted by the high-end operatic vocals of Marie, she is frequently accompanies by guitarist Max’s more low-key growling. Often these are overlaid, with one voice backing the other (“Asphodels”). Other times, they’re like two leads singing a duet (“Dead of Night”). It works well.
Alwaid are definitely more a melodic metal act than a gothic one, with the music being predominantly quite heavy. More emphasis seems to have been put into the beats and rhythms than atmosphere. This isn’t a criticism in the slightest, just to give you an idea of their sound. Keyboards, by Laurent, are part of the music rather than being used to conjure up an image as some bands prefer.
The tracks do vary in tempo and heaviness considerably. “The Cypress Grove” is probably the slowest an heaviest with a near doom-metal plod and low-toned guitars. “The Garden of Cyrus”, on the other hand, is much faster paces and almost bouncy in places.
Production and recording quality throughout is of the highest standards with all instruments and vocals being clear and well balanced. Overall, this is a good album and a great debut. Traditional metal with a nice twist and a good dose of variety. Lacus Somniorum won’t send you to sleep.