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Purple Nail - Embrace the Dark

Purple Nail - CD Review
Embrace the Dark

Purple Nail



CD Info
11 tracks
English Lyrics

In July 2013, I reviewed Purple Nail's debut album, Night Lights, here on Sonic Cathedral, quite enthusiastically after having the boots impressed off me by it. I am happy to report that this young gem of a Gothic metal band from Sweden had some significant success with that release, so much so that they inked a deal with metal label Wormholedeath, which has on its roster bands like Lightless Moor, and personal favourites, Rainover.

The strengths of Night Lights were its simplicity and oodles of moody atmosphere, and I am happy to hear from several spins of their follow-up, Embrace the Dark, that the band hasn't deviated from this game plan much, keeping their sound and approach laid back. They haven't ascribed to the "bigger is better" school of Gothic metal, keeping it simple and with a signature darkness they seem to have perfected. They have kept their songs and songwriting tight, and their choruses are lush with nice, easy going hooks and heightened atmospheres.

The introductory track on Embrace the Dark, "Drown With Me" sets the album's stage most excellently, with a voice over narrative, funereal bell tolling, a choir, and chanting before Lady Crow's haunting vox joins the mix. There is singing in Latin! This impresses me! Nothing screams "Gothic" like a verse of Latin, I say. This track is an ideal example of how well Purple Nail create with simple elements a visceral reaction in the listener, who is immediately transported into their bleak but ethereal world. The album is a definite journey through that world, exploring themes like beauty in decay, the coldness of death, and other typically Gothic-y stuff that brings to mind chilly, misty landscapes marked by leafless trees, dying foliage, and an overbearing, omnipresent dusk.

"Fragments" is the second track on the album, and the first real song. It's up-tempo and light on the ears, unencumbered by the needless flourishes the genre seems to demand theses days. However, though I emphasize quite a lot the simplicity of Purple Nail's music, it is by no means simple music; while it's not aggressive at all, it's complexity derives from the band's ability to mix a series of simple elements in an almost alchemical way.

A word or two about Lady Crow's vocals. She is good; she has a good lower register, which she uses a lot on this CD, and she can soar in a semi-operatic manner as well, so she's versatile. There is a lot of vocal variation on Embrace the Dark, and this is another element that helps create that alchemy I mentioned.

Though keyboard-heavy, there is no keyboardist in the line-up, which has me wondering who performed this role on the album. Indeed, the keys are very much a cornerstone of the band's sound, though the arrangements - again - are kept simple.

Lots of other songs stood out for me on the album. "Through Thistles and Thorns" is a slower-paced song with a smooth groove and boasts one of the album's few guitar solos. "Sisters of Faith" is a bit speedier with some very evocative imagery. I also love the title track "Embrace the Dark", with its deep bassiness and fullness of sound. It's also one of the heavier tracks and has an hymn-ish tone to it that I really liked. "My Bride in Silence" is another strong track. I like the catchiness of it as well as chorus's gently lilting groove. "Between White Sheets" is also a favourite.

If I had to point out that Embrace the Dark has any weaknesses, I'd say that, in comparison to Night Lights, it's a little more ponderous in pace. Also, it's almost got a restrained quality to it, like the musicians are holding back in some way they didn't with their debut album. There is an energy lacking in it that the Night Lights had. It's difficult to describe.

All in all, however, this is a great album by a young and up-and-coming band. I'm stoked that they have a record label now, and I hope it means that they'll be booking more shows and gaining more momentum.