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On disc: Mandrake

- Mary Celeste - Claudia Ehrhardt - 5 stars

Mary Celeste

Mary Celeste
(Greyfall - 2007)

Mandrake are from the German town Oldenburg and this is their 4th album. Mary Celeste is a conceptual album based on this: Mary Celeste was a brigantine found in the Atlantic Ocean unmanned and under full sail heading towards the Strait of Gibraltar in 1872. The fate of the crew is the subject of much speculation: theories range from alcoholic fumes to underwater earthquakes, and there is a large number of fictional accounts. The Mary Celeste is often described as the archetypal ghost ship. (Source: Wikipedia)
The title track is opening up with a beautiful, slightly spacy melody, then spoken words been added. A little later the band kicks it off heavily with heavy riffs and a murderous groove. Unfortunately the vocals of Birgit Lau partly drown in the wall of guitars. She isn't following the trend and is singing in an operatic style, even if there some parts where she tends towards it. At Crystals Of Forgiveness Birgit's vocals are more up-front. They present a riff-based gothic metal without kitschy melodies and bittersweet keyboard parts. With Fragile they slow down a bit and Birgit sounds more fragile here, but the wall of guitars steamroll her. A pity. Again they use some spoken word part as a bridge between songs. At Forgiven singer Lutz de Putter joins in, but couldn't really left an impression... His vocals are flat... Unemotional. On Adore Miss Lau is singing a bit more high-pitched - and sounds like so many others. The piano-based Paralyzed is the last track and shows that they have a softer and more emotional side.
The album give me mixed emotions, coz Birgit's vocal lines and melodies mainly are quite good, but the guitar riffing is too one-dimensional. To add a male counter part is very often used in the 'beauty and the beast'-style, but in this case the male vocal part has no character... Actually I wouldn't miss it. At parts they remind me a bit of Lacuna Coil, but the Italians are more intense and touching. There are some cool parts and nice ideas, but songs like Masquerade don't show this. If the vocals wouldn't be steamrolled, they probably would leave a better impression... Like on Sweet Desolation where Miss Lau get the chance to shine. More stuff like this and they would get a better rating, coz here not just the sound is better balanced, the instrumental part is varying. Not the same old riffs again and again. If they can improve the songwriting - get a bit more variety - and the sound more balanced, then they have a decent chance to catch more attention.
To check them out, I recommend: Crystals Of Forgiveness, Fragile, Adore and Sweet Desolation.

5 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


           2008-2010 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail:

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