Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ambient Thursday: Lethian Dreams

Yes folks, it's Thursday again, when the weight of the week comes bearing down, the end is ... hang on ... some bugger has changed me logo! What's going on? Ambient Thursday is it? Well, okay then.

Extreme Thursday is having a bit of a break. While we at Femetalism love a bit of extremity in our metal, we also love many other things too. To give a fair look-in to those who aren't replete in guttural growls, blast beats and downtuned riffage, we are having a bit of a foray into other types of metal. Do not worry, though. Extreme Thursday will be back!

This week we're looking at weight. Not the physical property of mass affected by gravity, but the heaviness so sought after in rock and metal. Heavy is certainly a word that gets used a lot in the world of metal. Bands are fond of saying that their next album will be their "heaviest yet". Riffs and grooves are described, if not heavy, then some suitable synonym. But what is "heavy"? Sometimes the heaviness of music is not in the heights of amplitude or the depths of frequency. It is somewhere else. Somewhere harder to define

Enter Lethian Dreams, a self-described "ethereal doom" band from France. Formed in 2002 by Carline van Roos and Matthieu Sachs. Over 12 years and 3 full length albums they have continually adjusted, refined and, occasionally, entirely changed their sound.

Lethian Dreams released a number of demos over their first few years together. Mournful Whispers, Lost In Grief and Requiem For My Soul, Eternal Rest For My Heart each saw the band experimenting with their sound, finding their strengths.

After these three demos the band were ready to release their first full length titled Bleak Silver Streams. In the early days Lethian Dreams was a trio with death growls being performed by Carlos D'Agua. The interplay of vocal styles, along with occasional spoken passages, give the whole album a Gothic feel with hints of similarly styled doom bands such as Anathema.

After the initial success of Bleak Silver Streams it was time to evolve the sound. The first major change was the elimination of the male vocal and the death growls along with it. This allowed Carline and Matthieu to focus on the songwriting, the ambience and Carline's haunting vocal style.

While preparing the second album a compilation of remastered demo tracks and four new songs was released. Just Passing By...& Unreleased Requiems marks the end of the first era of Lethian Dreams.

The second album, the first with Carline taking sole vocal duty, was released in 2012. Season Of Raven Words saw a shift in the band's musical style too, concentrating on the ambient, ethereal side of their style. A more raw guitar sound from Matthieu contrasts an ethereal, otherworldly vocal from Carline to produce a haunting listening experience.

While the first album could be considered Gothic doom, the second is leaning heavily toward shoegaze. This shift is but just one more step on the Lethian Dreams journey as the band's third album proves.

Released in April 2014, Red Silence Lodge innovates not in shifting styles and vocal gimmicks, but in vastly improved songwriting. This is where the heaviness of Lethian Dreams really comes into its own, not through hard riffs or thundering blast beats or deep, guttural growls, but through a dense, palpable weight that starts in the chest and pulls down with each riff, with each softly sung word. A deep sadness that manifests more strongly with each line.

With this third release Lethian Dreams seem to have hit their stride. There will likely be more shifts in style, more ways to fine tune what has become a very distinctive form of ambient doom. It will be interesting to see where they take their sound next.


Originally posted by Craig Andrews on Femetalism.