Each year, I seem to focus on certain genres. One year, it was instrumental; another year, it was electronic. This year, I seem to be attracted to the doom genre, which I blame on my exploration of Anathema’s discography earlier this year. Lethian Dreams is the latest band that I have been enjoying, and their new album “A Shadow of Memories” released on September 25th.
Lethian Dreams is a French band. I assume their name is related to the mythological Lethe River in Hades that caused forgetfulness of the past in those who drank of it. It is an appropriate name, considering the sound they employ. The band consists of Carline Van Roos on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards; Matthieu Sachs on guitar and keys; and Pierre Bourguignon on drums.
The band plays a form of doom metal akin to their fellow countrymen Alcest. This is atmospheric blackgaze with a heavy fog of feelings enshrouding everything. There are doom and Gothic influences, and the overall sound is ethereal, pensive, and shadowy. I absolutely love that sort of sound.
After hearing this album, I came away with two opinions, one that is negative and one that is positive. For the positive, I have to say that the guitars and keys on this album are absolutely beautiful. The shoegaze-y aura that the band creates never fails to grab my heart, and there are several fantastic solos. The keys, too, have a wonderful, reserved texture that I really like. They create a sort of early morning mist that obscures everything in a haze of melody and feeling.
For the negative (and this is sort of a positive), I wish that the band would mix Carline’s vocals more prominently into the music. It is often difficult to hear her, and she has a great voice. I found myself enjoying the record less because I couldn’t hear the lyrics very well. There are a few moments where she can be heard loud and clear; but, for the most part, she is hidden. Maybe that is the band’s purpose, as I will admit it adds to the overall ethereal effect.
All of the songs here are great. I don’t think any of them are filler or missing something. My favorites are probably the 11 minute “Tidal”, which has a great song structure and some of the best guitar on the album; and also “Mist of Memories”, a song which fully utilizes the dim atmosphere to greatest effect. I also really like “Your Silence” and “And Hollow”, the last two on the album. The former has a vibrancy that makes it stand out, and the latter is even more spacious and emotional than the rest of the tracklist. It often feels like a lullaby, and it climaxes and fades away stunningly. I love the haunting final vocal melody, especially.
Lethian Dreams have so much potential. They have a strong ability to create lingering soundscapes that will draw you in with daring and emotion. They come across as evocative, profound, and soothing to the soul. I think this album will continue to grow on me, and I hope Alcest fans especially will give it a try.
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