Welcome to the New World is one of those albums that, despite its obvious charms and instant ability, took me a little while to really get to grips with. Call it a slow burner, if you will. Sometimes when you listen to an album you get that instant spark of recognition; this is your soulmate and sadly in many cases it proves to only be an infatuation and you hate each other by the time the month is out. Then you get the record that on the first few spins almost seems underwhelming, perhaps not what you was hoping for but on subsequent spins proves to be an inspirational title.
Then sometimes you get something like Welcome to the New World, where from the moment you play it, you know that people are going to fall in love with it. You can see exactly what the band are trying to achieve but somehow it does not take you with it on the first few listens. Until you truly do get it. Sometimes, when reviewing records you perhaps get too hung up on the band’s biography and in this case I was expecting a goth metal record and on the first few listens I wasn’t sure this was what I was getting. It almost seemed like symphonic metal trying to be a little goth to capture a darker audience but with these thoughts I was doing it a disservice. It has influences far ranging beyond the scope of what I was first hearing, it has elements even of Celtic folk popular in the goth scene in the 1980s.
Does any of this actually even matter? It does, because I have made it matter and I tend to overthink my music but what is only ever important is does that record speak to you or not? This record has some tremendous moments on it that, for me, I haven’t heard on many releases in recent times and this is what stands out. However it also has one or two moments I found a little complex, and I think this is what threw my primal instinct to this record in the first place. Take the second track “Sailing Far Away”, this is a truly wonderful song, melancholic, thoughtful, paced in such a way that you are pulled along in its dreamscape. It has the softest and most delicate of guitar solos. This is the more Celtic folk overtures and at times even reminds me of the Welsh prog indie rockers Gorky Zygotic Mynci. But it is those lyrics and that voice that completely and utterly captivates and captures you. This is what Walk in Darkness is about. Creating imagery, with a melody that makes your heart melt.
The album opener on the other hand is where the confusion for me comes in. It starts with a sombre and scene-setting piano before a doomy guitar duplicates the melody. The vocals, when they begin, are dreamy and suit the build-up. So far, so good. Yet, as the song builds we are introduced to guest vocalist Emiliano Pasquinelli providing backing growls. There is nothing wrong with his performance but in this opening song it is somewhat of a surprise and for me probably not needed. The song had all the dynamics it needed. On subsequent listens I am still somewhat unsure, I have heard this method of vocal interplay work really well, but here it does not overly enhance what is already a good song.
The growls are used again on “I’m The Loneliness” which starts like a Celtic folk song entered by Ireland for the Eurovision Song contest before rocking up with some crunching guitars. Here, the growling vocals get to add some of their own parts and this works better but again I can’t help but suspect the song did not need it. So, if anything, it is the introduction of this guest vocalist that perplexes me. It’s not wrong and I think many people will enjoy it but for me it’s a little issue of style over content.
That said the album as a whole is still very strong and I can see the appeal of the band. Take a song like “Flame on Flame” – it’s perfectly crafted with an almost pop sensibility to the opening verses which soon soar, and when the band pull off this type of movement within the song you can totally empathise from the pit of your stomach. So overall, I feel this album delivers on its promises and, at moments, is sublime. It’s true in its gothic intent and has a respectful nod to its 80s predecessors.
All this band needs for the future is the confidence to believe in themselves. They don’t need to steer from their path they are already taking by experimentation or other means because the core and heart of this band is special enough.
Welcome to the New World is out now