Gone in April – Shards of Light (2019) – Review

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Will the metal fan crowd still find Gothic Metal bands out there worth their salt? A difficult proposition at best. Because we have heard and seen it all.

Or have we?

And – more importantly – there is no such thing as typical Gothic Metal. The genre more describes a trend and serves as a recipient for a hodgepodge of different styles and variations. Much like other genres.

For example Pagan Metal, which is always driven by historical beliefs that go beyond the lore of the nailed god. And one that – for sure – is not driven by actual musical specificities. Even if the latter often depends a lot on traditional Folk Metal.

And I am laughing already, the band might not take kindly to the above. Because here we got ourselves Gone in April and their newest album Shards of Light. They delivered one of those enigmas that plays straight into these sadly-worn gothic stereotypes, maybe more by deed than by style. Or then again, not at all.

Am I making sense yet?

For starters, they like to place themselves into dark and darkly ominous settings of the past. Mysterious stories, histories in gutted ruins, ghosts not quite visible in dusty cathedrals, tableaus painted in vivid and almost Victorian colors. All of that permeated by these strange airs of death and decay. Ah, so tasty – and sometimes almost baroque, but without the harpsichord. Just check out one of their latest videos to catch my drift.

Yet this time, Gone in April serve a real medley.

It’s a sum of all metal parts if you will. The record burns through their metal like partygoers heap up beer bottles on a hot summer night. You’ll find the aforementioned Gothic piece, Symphonic, a little Power, loads of Death, Folk Metal, and more. And – behold – a goodly portion of Progressive Metal too. Whereas the folksy part exponentially increased.

And there’s more brownie points to be had.

Shards of Light also contains more French than Threads of Existence ever mustered. I was riveted by the short, but juicy chanting on Une Route Nouvelle. Why they appear to throw their Canadian French accent overboard is beyond me, though. But then, from my visits to Quebec, I understand that some of them prefer the modern French accent. Which is a pity, as their somewhat archaic local dialect positively screams for such settings.

Gone in April improved on musical prowess too.

We now have a piece where all parts converse with one another. You might remember the RMR deck crew’s complaints about overwhelming drumming warfare on Threads of Existence. Not so on Shards of Light.

Yanic Bercier‘s sticks are still put to excellent use, as was to be expected. Yet now, the drum work artfully locks onto the song structure. And I mean this is in a good way. This is highly superior drumming prowess on display right there. It takes skill to deliver stellar quality, and not take over the record. And this is truly impressive.

Steve Di Giorgio‘s fretless bass now has a distinct voice too. Which is important in any record of quality. None of that plague of a totally invisible and locked in bass on this disk, that’s for sure. And we truly relished the rare guitar solos of Marc-André Gingras that somehow mystically appear. Starting with Empire of Loss.

Now Gone in April seriously got into Folk Metal on Shards. Old style with archaic instruments, echoes from the past, and a nice ‘mélange’ of today’s metal and past tribal sounds. Together with Julie Bélanger Roy‘s pretty cool and much more mature violin power play, this quickly became one of the juiciest facets of this truly multifaceted record. And this is also how A Torch in the Night got to the top of our favorite shortlist quickly.

However, being the female front, I would have liked Bélanger Roy‘s voice to be more predominantly present in the mix. She sometimes almost diesappears in that ocean of elements. And that is a pity.

After mid-point Shards of Light somehow loses steam, or maybe originality, as the repetition bug somehow strikes home a tad too strongly. But fear not, the energy bounces back towards the end of the tracklist.

That’s where the band again kinda goes early Epica on me with this beauty and the beast thing together with Aaron Rogers. Yet, this time they almost veered off a tad too much into operatic and somewhat cinematic territory. But only just.

So, let’s put a wrapper around all that goodness.

Shards of Light truly is the sum of its many talents. Gone in April brought about another very complex and intense piece of work. And whilst this may not always be in its best interest, not many albums managed to capture my attention in quite that way in 2019.

This really is metal outside of the proverbial beaten path, which – again – is just the way we like it. Technically outstanding, complex but smooth, folksy yet symphonic, and truly captivating. A juicy slab of metal you should surely try, and only judge after the last note petered out.

Oh, and do consume without moderation.

*****

Record Rating: 8/10| Label: Self-Released  | Web: Official Site

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