Monday, May 17, 2010

Dracena - Demonic Women

Dracena - Demonic Women
1999, Self-Release

It's been quite a while since I've had the chance to listen to a band like this, composed mostly of women, intent on claiming a place for themselves by beating the boys at their own game instead of capitalizing in some bizarre sense on their gender (i.e. pandering to the mostly-male audience of the metal scene) - I think the last pure female death metal band that I remember was Derketa, who released a good, doom-filled death record on Seraphic Decay about ten years ago. I don't really have the energy to go into all the good reasons why there should be more bands like this, made of up women who are dedicated to their musical craft and the pursuit of their band's success, on their own terms, and really you should know all the reasons anyway...if nothing else, they offer something new, something that is different in the increasingly complacent metal scene.

So, in any case, what we have here is a promo or demo CD with three solid, well-constructed, structurally-minded death metal songs that unfold at their own pace...songs that are based around simple themes but which are original on the surface in that they hearken back to older styles of metal. I remember when this style - the mid-paced, fluid, percussive and punchy, melodic form of death - was the most popular sound around (some time ago now), and Dracena mix that older take on death aesthetics with updated Swedish tremelo riffing and dark harmonies (especially in the first song, the excellent title track) to form a catchy, impressive, pure heavy metal approach that is sure to please. In the the title track there is a nice atonal section in the middle, a sort of expanded bridge, where the riff-oriented guitar music collapses and the band falls into an expanding soundscape...I wish it would have lasted longer. There is a similar space in the second song, a small bridge section, which has the addition of a meandering solo on top of it. For the most part, however, this is riff-obsessed verse and chorus metal, tried and true. In addition, it seems to me that the lyrics also attempt to tell little stories, as in older metal songs (instead of the 'atmospheric' narratives of black metal or the 'autopsy reports' of modern death), and the music has been written to fit these lyrics - marrying epic tales with an epic sound, you could say.

All in all this is a good release by a promising band, and I hope to see them continuing with their unique style. Something tells me this material is a little dated now, so their next release might feature some new offerings in their all-around sound or stylistic changes that will bring them closer to what they want to accomplish with this band...I look forward to hearing it.