Ooooh, Pretty colours! Thought I, as I gazed upon the cover of this album, so generously given away for download by the band for free. In this case, far from warning of a venomous sting, pretty colours entice, and the music is brilliant too. Convoluted, surreal opening sentences aside, Akelei are a Dutch atmospheric doom-metal band, and their debut, De Zwaarte van het Doorstane, is one of my favourite discoveries of the recent few weeks.
"Akelei" Google-translate tells me, means "Columbine" which has some pretty dark connotations. "De Zwaarte van het Doorstane" means "The Gravity of the Weathered" which is quite awesome, in an interestingly translated way. They vocals themselves, and song-titles, are all in Dutch, as far as I can tell, which means they could be about more-or-less anything. Whatever the lyrical themes, the vocals are truly beautiful, with a melancholic and echoey feel. They're almost like classical vocals, in their style, and beauty, especially on songs such as "Duett" which features amazing female vocals working together with the male vocals. The vocals are, I must admit, among the most beautiful I've heard in metal. Ever.
Driving the vocals forward, the guitars are very evocative, and, as is doom-metal's wont, slow paced. Each chord slams into the song, as if in slow motion, and sends the listener tumbling through a gorgeous, melancholy yet uplifting soundscape. Behind this crushing rhythm guitar is some interesting, slow and even more evocative lead work, which adds the "Atmospheric" to the band's "Doom". Songs like "Verlangen" which means "Desire", are the ones which hooked me into the band. Each song feels like a journey, each one with it's own flavour and feeling, although all of them are without a doubt excellent. There are five songs on the album, each weighing in at around 9-12 minutes in length, which means they've got plenty of time to work their effect, and I found myself truly being able to think while they were playing, and to become lost in my own mind.
The songs are long. Very long, as you may have noticed. These aren't the kind of songs you can listen to for a quick musical break. Listening to them is so rewarding, but, as the track lengths dictate, takes a lot of time. It is so utterly worth it though. I'd recommend Akelei to anyone, even if they don't listen to much doom-metal, heck, even if they don't listen to much metal in general.
This album is easily 10/10.
Akelei on Bandcamp (They give away their material for free here)