Knoxville, TN, huh? In the bible belt? Not necessarily known for its abundance in metal bands. But here is the Canadian/American band Gone In April featuring their sophomore full length album Threads of Existence that just got released this early 2016.
And they do not opt for the easy road: They’re offering a Gothic laden Symphonic Metal style that will make you hit the back button, when you just wanted to skip the record and move on. And yes, I know there is Speed, Folk and Thrash Metal in there too and it is veering into Cinematic on some of the tracks. But most the general undertone is definitely Gothic and Symphonic Metal. And I’d think their style is soft enough to please the Gothic crowd, but will not find a lot of foothold with the die-hard metalheads.
My evil twin tried to whisper though – I do have one, y’know! – that this is an Epica clone of sorts, scraping stuff off The Phantom Agony. Nasty that, huh? But no, Gone In April is much more complex than that. They clearly took their influences, Epica being one of them – just watch their stage performance. But you will find a lot of Leaves’ Eyes and a shot of Nightwish in some of that.
So, how does Threads of Existence make a difference?
First, it is with the (in)famous and almost over-used theme of Beauty of the Beast. Gone in April consistently use this theme with unclean vocals that actually deserve the description. Aaron Rogers (no, not the one of the Green Bay Packers, he comes with a ‘d’) constantly delivers on all tracks. I am impressed. Most Gothic Metal outfits tried to use growls at some point in time and many of them miserably failed. Not this band.
All that growling needs some counterweight. And here we have the heroine of the piece. Meet Julie Bélanger Roy, the female front. A classically trained contralto, she really shines on Threads of Existence. The way she interprets the tracks really gives that kind of baroque flavor to the whole record. You kind of feel ready to slap on some powder, squeeze a wig on this sorry bowl of yours truly and start looking for unwashed gals in gowns to dance with or guys in stockings – whatever takes your fancy. Given her background she is able to switch from metal to folk with no problem, just check out Embracing The Light. Some of that in Canadian French, no less.
Then, feeling like Cesare Borgia on the prowl!
Let me show you the boy with too many toys. I know, drums are important and it is very evident that Yanic Bercier is very good to excellent at his trade. But good can also turn to geek and sometimes less is more. And this happens when the only thing you hear is the fucking, clickedy-click of the drums that are right in your face anywhere you turn. This ain’t a fucking drum contest, but a band effort.
The bad gets to a point that it drowns out the vocals, which just is a no-go. Specifically in the metal playground that the band chose for themselves. The vocals need to be ever present, if ever you want to learn from Epica and the likes. And this almost makes the terrible SAVN raise its ugly head, even if the vocalist is in it for nothing in Threads of Existence.
Now, we can try and attribute all these bad humors to bad mixing and mastering. And there might be some truth in it given the apparent compression, but someone just needs to limit access to the drum kit for this kid. This for sure kicks a star off the rating.
That bad, eh?
Nope. The overall quality of Threads of Existence is good to very good, barring one or two exceptions. The Curtain will Rise will give you a first taste of that. Ably followed by Remember The Days some time later, both technically outstanding tracks, the latter containing one of the rare guitar solos.
Don’t miss out on the aforementioned Embracing the Light and the last track The Will to End a Life. It speaks to the confidence of the band that they add one of the better tracks right at the end. The track length also widely varies, from almost two minutes for the intro Dawn of Times (what a relief…) to way over 6 minutes in As Hope Welcomes Death.
The variety and surprising turns the band managed to slip into the 10 tracks of Threads of Existence allows them to shine and stand out in this overcrowded legion of female fronted metal bands. Boldly striding across many different sub-genres will keep the metal archivist’s purist soul in flames. But it is actually one of Gone in April‘s main strengths. And proof that we have capable musicians in front of us trying to make a difference in an area that many believe has been sucked dry already a long time ago.
If Gone in April can manage to tame the drummy madness prevalent on this record and tweak the mixing and mastering a little better, this is for sure not going to be the last disc I will be enjoying from this band. They are good. So, why not go ahead and give them a try?
Editor’s note: March 2018 saw the arrival of a new, pretty sturdy video based on Our Future Line. Check it out, will ya?
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook