Beseech - Sunless Days
The genre of gothic metal has seen something of a boom lately, with constellations from all over the world (and especially those with female vocalists) climbing the charts. Sweden's contribution comes in the form of Beseech, a 7-person strong ensemble who is striving for something of a breakthrough with Sunless Days, their fifth album. The chances of succeeding are definitely looking optimistic. The release of the slightly lacklustre Drama last year was a step back from the excellent Soul's Highway (2002), but now the band seems to have found the right path again.
The biggest change since earlier is the production, which is nothing short of excellent. Since Drama, a second guitarist (Manne Engström) has been recruited, which gives Sunless Days a richer sound than the earlier releases. Furthermore, the dual vocalists Erik Molarin and Lotta Höglin contrast each other as good as ever, with Molarin's gloomy voice against Höglin's ethereal ditto. Most important of all, though: the compositions offer a new depth than before and are a lot more dynamic.
For example; the first single "Innerlane" might sound a bit flat at first listen, but grows tremendously after a few spins. It's a brave choice of a single, since it shows a new and more complex side of the band. Songs like "The Outpost" and "A Bittersweet Tragedy" thread on familiar Beseech-ground, with haunting keyboard melodies that would make Paradise Lost jealous, and melancholic guitars which reminisce of Swedish stadium rockers Kent.
My biggest problem with the previous release Drama was that Lotta Höglin became sidelined all too often in favour of Erik Molarin; an almost criminal act. Not that Molarin is bad in any way; it's just that the lovely Höglin easily ranks among vocalists like Tarja Turunen (Nightwish), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation) and Amy Lee (Evanescence) when it comes to having the most powerful voice in the genre at the moment. On Sunless Days she gets more space than earlier. Just listen to the ballad "Lost" (which has nothing to do with the popular TV-series) where Beseech strips down to nothing but a piano and Höglin's singing. The result might be the best song the band has ever crafted.
Sunless Days also includes a cover; "Devil's Plaything" originally made by Danzig. It won't make people raise their eyebrows like when Beseech interpreted the ABBA-hit "Gimme Gimme Gimme" on Soul's Highway, but it's definitely functional. The cover is clearly overshadowed by the band's own material, though. Beseech has surpassed themselves with Sunless Days, and if they keep this up there is no telling where this will end.
As a final note; be sure to purchase the limited digipack-edition, as it contains a revamped version of the five year old track "Manmade Dreams", as well as an emotional version of "Lost".