Oct 5, 2011

Painted Black - Cold Comfort ...

Portugal's Painted Black has been together for around 10 years but I think this is their first full-length album. After 10 years of experience behind them, you would expect them to have their musicianship finely tuned and indeed they do. This band was also voted as the best unsigned band in their country some three times so this is a much overdue début album. The playing on this album is quite exceptional and the production by Daniel Cardoso and Pedro Mendes is also excellent so they get full points there but how much you are going to like this album depends really on much you like the goth/death doom style. The band play a close imitation to Swallow The Sun, My Dying Bride, Moonspell, Katatonia, and Anathema but luckily without resorting to outright plagiarism. They have a great guitar team in Luís Fazendeiro and Miguel Matos but the real star of the show is vocalist Daniel Lucas who seems to be able to switch from clean spoken word passages to guttural death-metal growls while keeping the emotional level at a peak. The songs also switch from melodic and mellow to very dramatic heavy sections of melodic deathly doom at ease via some exciting tempo changes that are very-well structured and performed. The problem I have is Painted Black are yet another band in the ever increasingly bloated goth, death-doom scene. A scene that has lacked innovations for at least a decade now in my opinion and this band does nothing to bring anything new to the table. The album is about as predictable as you can get in terms of style but they at least have better than the usual musical chops to pull off an interesting dose of emotional, atmospheric metal.

One of the big negatives for me is the best track is the first track, 'Via Dolorosa' which is a surprisingly, aggressive opener for the most of its 9 minutes. The track is nicely inter-woven with more mellow passages and with the alternating vocals I mentioned before, this is a stunning way to kick off the album. There is even a female vocal that comes in towards the end of the piece as well as exciting lead breaks so this tune has it all and more. The following track, 'Shadowbound' doesn't repeat the formula if you can call it that; they certainly have many other tricks up their sleeves but I kind of wish there was more tracks like the opening tune. 'Shadowbound' is more up-tempo overall but still has mood swings; this time via the use of acoustic guitars. 'The End Of Tides' is solid but very generic within the goth-doom style of playing and song composition. 'Absent Heart,' likewise is a track you can't help but feel you have heard before at least a few times by several different bands but especially My Dying Bride. Maybe it is the use of classical piano or the cold, emotional vocals that give it that vibe but it does reek of gothic-recycling. 'Cold Comfort (Release)' comes close for me to topping the opening tune for the "best-track" status. This is a faster, more aggressive track and while it is over 8 minutes long; it is a quick 8 minutes without a second wasted.

The next tune I think has been released as a single and it is easy to see why. This tune titled 'Winter (Storm)' is total gothic in every way possible and lacks any real "doom-appeal" for me personally but it is a obvious choice for a single release. The last two tracks are epics; the first 'The Rain In June (Out Of Season)' is the third of the albums three great tracks, the others being the title track and the opener. This tune is a melting pot of inspired leads, emotive vocals, and elaborate arrangements. The album ends with the 10 minute 'Inevitability' that has its moments of brilliance but has also got a lot of padding to finish the album off in an ordinary fashion. Out of the eight tracks here, three are essential listening for the goth-doom listener but the rest are kind of run-of-the-mill melodic gothic/doom metal tunes, expertly played and produced just the same though. If you are a fan of this doom sub-genre, you should be pretty excited about this album and for the future of this band, if not you might want to look elsewhere.....6.5/10

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1 comment :

  1. Good review and great art work. I'm going to have to check these guys out!


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