ALBUM REVIEW: Lacrima ‘A Story From Limbo’

Lacrima

LACRIMA
‘A Story From Limbo’
Released: September 2014
9/10

Polish doom legends Lacrima have been busy on the Eastern European festival scene this year, undoubtedly playing many of the excellent doom tracks that can be be found on this, the band’s fifth release. That’s because ‘A Story From Limbo’ consists of compositions that were first written in Lacrima’s formative years, but which were never recorded in a studio. Now, at last, the rest of the world is able to hear more of what the people of Krakow and the surrounding region have been enjoying for years.

Lacrima were formed in 1996 by singer/guitarist Kuba Morawski, wearer of a rather lovely crimson cape, and owner of a forceful voice that is reminiscent of Tiamat’s Johan Edlund with hints of the mighty Tom G. Warrior in its tone and character. The band took a few years out at the beginning of the millennium, but reformed in 2010, stronger than ever, making them the oldest doom metal unit in their country.

‘A Story From Limbo’ is a celebration of the band’s 18th anniversary, and Morawski has described the thinking behind it as follows: “the songs were like unborn children, forever drifting in limbo.” Which explains the decision to finally record these doom gems, as well as the rationale behind the album’s title and artwork. And while the songs themselves might have been suspended in limbo for almost two decades, that’s not to say they sound dated or derivative. Yes, Lacrima’s heart and soul may be in the classic doom metal sound and ethos of that misty era, but they have moved with the times sufficiently for this album to sound fresh and exciting.

This is more a story of survival, dedication, passion, perseverance and, above all, true quality. From their early days, Lacrima have created great songs and,  in 2014, they sound more accomplished and mature than ever. Imagine that Tiamat had maintained their ‘Clouds’ standards, or that Anathema had created more of ‘Serenades’. Szymon Grabarczyk’s Roland adds something special, adorning the traditional heavy metal staples of dynamic twin guitars, trundling bass and thumping drums with subtly spectacular synths and a sense of grandeur.

It’s pretty ambitious stuff, and takes an unexpected turn late on with the addition of female vocals on ‘Backwards’ and ‘Innocent’, which sound at times like a hybrid of Asia, Epica and My Dying Bride, while always returning to a death-doom core. It proves to be a difficult balance to pull off, but Lacrima’s rediscovered zeal is for experimentation as well as revisiting its hidden past. Elsewhere, the addition of opera vocals into ‘Alar Shadows’ does not quite work, while the track ‘Chalice Of Memories’ lacks developmental flow. But, generally, the songs are deft and immense, forged from skill and wisdom and packed full of great ideas.

Lacrima are working on new material for 2015, and they will hopefully draw further strength from their roots to create more hugely enjoyable doom metal. ‘A Story From Limbo’ is a cultured and composed collection of ancient artefacts that have been dug up and polished until they glisten. This is the sound of classic 1990s doom taken to the next level.

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