Rating:
8.7
Mandrake - Innocence Weakness
21 May 2010


01. Prelude
02. A Secret To Reveal
03. Save Us From Ourselves
04. A Serenade To The Sea
05. Among The Demons
06. Innocence
07. Autumn Infinity
08. Coma
09. Indignation
10. Existence
11. Silhouette
12. Weakness


Releases like this are few and far between for me. Mandrake continue to refine their gothic metal style, walking their own solitary path throughout a city of antiquity, traveling on paths left oft-unexplored, hidden between the shadows of overproduced and commercialized albums. They reveal a sorrowful, passionate song writing, full of coarse male vocals and sincere female vocals, ready to slowly haunt you with its own honesty and yearning for a release from own our psychological seclusions.

While the band's previous release found them traversing the brooding seas of Mary Celeste, we were only given a glimpse of the direction Mandrake had been working toward since its inception. On Innocence Weakness, we find the band upon the water's edge, proudly pouring its misty sadness into it for itself and all to see, offering a an album awash in replay value. Mandrake's sound is one of openness, the lone brightly lit lamp above a slightly ajar doorway among an endless avenue of locked buildings.

Composed by guitarist/keyboardist and male vocalist Lutz de Putter, Innocence Weakness pulls Mandrake back toward a heavier sound. At once I feel a connection to various gothic and some doom influences, but he has developed his style thoroughly enough that those feel merely like the wake his riffs make after diving into the water of contemplation. From the brooding "Coma" to the drearily energetic "Existence" to the plodding yet beautiful "Among The Demons," each song on Innocence Weakness is full of well-defined character, awaiting to be the next song to circle in your head. Arrangements seem to naturally arrive, such as with the final minute and more of "A Serenade To The Sea" as it reveals a dramatic climax that many a lesser band would never discover. And how many times does gothic metal's instrumental become one of my favorite songs on an album? Innocence Weakness in fact contains three similar sounding ones (the opener, closer, and middle so to say), but it is the middle, "Innocence" that stops me mid-sentence to inhale, and then exhale slowly as the nearly four minute piece comes to a close. It is its own movement to murky introspection.

Lutz and female vocalist Birgit Lau finally have become the ideal companions for each other behind the mic, balanced at just the right levels with Lutz's and Julius Martinek's guitars, their background of atmospheric keys, and the calculated intensities of Holger Bloempott's drums. For fans of gruff male vocals, start with "Save Us From Ourselves," sung primarily by Lutz. In what perhaps is his best singing yet, his vocals are like the ignored, destitute speaker behind humanity's podium, watching us inevitably fall to self-inflicted suffering.

Birgit's natural tones are artfully matched to the album's concept, maintaining a forlorn, almost youthful presence. It's only when reading along with the lyrics that her occasional thinness in style makes sense, such as in "Indignation," where she sings of one whose "inner strength is lost," personifying the lack of force one would have at that moment. I love how she is able to bring me back to my formative days in "Among The Demons," conversing with and longing for the forsaken evil ones who I'd wish were around in times of need. While some of the tracks may show her as she reaches her limits, yet others have her exploring thoroughly worked intonations, "Silhouettes" is Birgit in her natural essence. Reflective and poetic, her voice begins the song with by filling the room with nostalgic tears, emptying the beach for me alone to watch the waves endlessly roll against my feet.

I have always had immense respect for bands who understand balance, from vocal lines, instruments, and on the production side. Mandrake know what their limits are, and know what their strengths are, and use them at the right moments. Innocence Weakness may slip under the radar for even many gothic metal fans, but for those who would prefer an intensely personal visit to a home with your long-lost friends beside a fire instead of grand celebrations in ornate cathedrals, I'd recommend the album to you. Mandrake represent the band for a select clientele of male and female fronted gothic metal fans, unimpressed by irrelevant marketing techniques, and instead for lovers of music that is drenched in mournful reflection and that beckons you into its home like only a smiling, solitary demon from your dreams can do.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Mandrake
Album: Innocence Weakness


 


written by dismaleuphony | 19.09.2010



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Elyar S. - 19.09.2010 at 11:59  
Very good review I will check them out. And I have to say that Im totally agree with this part of your review:

"I have always had immense respect for bands who understand balance, from vocal lines, instruments, and on the production side."
ravendeath - 19.09.2010 at 19:04  
Nice and very descriptive review of a very good album.
DerRozzengarten - 19.09.2010 at 21:21  
Very good album, even better review! I listened to it recently and i liked it very much, the vocalists are really good co-workers! It'll revisit my ears very soon
Elyar S. - 27.09.2010 at 03:43  
Tried it and liked it so much. Jason has a good taste always
Elyar S. - 27.09.2010 at 04:05  
Among The Demons is my song in this album, great female vocals its from heart.
Dominus - 17.12.2010 at 17:02  
Great album, great vocals
Kwis - 22.12.2010 at 18:07  
"Mandrake's sound is one of openness, the lone brightly lit lamp above a slightly ajar doorway among an endless avenue of locked buildings." What a stunning description. Great review.
Jeeers - 24.12.2010 at 11:23  
Vocals are far from great...
rekkuza- - 25.12.2010 at 19:27  
Great review! Though the album itself attempts to reminisce the beauty and the beast vocals, doom-like atmosphere, and many other aspects of "old-school" Gothic metal, it just cannot bring it back...
Susan - 27.12.2010 at 05:05  
Nice in-depth review, Jason. Good album, though I'm still a bit undecided. I've only heard a few albums from this band but have always admired their mature sound. Innocent Weakness has a few songs I loved immediately and a few I found a bit boring. Nice atmosphere throughout and I want to listen more to see if the music develops for me... I think it will.
Slinky666 - 12.12.2011 at 06:19  
This says it all - if I had to I rather listen to Mandrake than to Evanescence.

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