06 Jul 2021 - Pat O'
Dark Metal/Doom Metal/Gothic Metal | Release date: 08 Jun 2021
Lichfield are dark, gothic and very heavy. They bring their own brand of melancholy that’s cleverly interwoven with flashes of classic doom influences.
If you are of a similar vintage to myself and were lucky enough to witness and experience the likes of Paradise Lost, Anathema, Amorphis, Katatonia and Sentenced in their prime, you will understand why Lichfield, a new “Dark Metal” band from Hessen, Germany have grabbed my attention. The nineties were a golden age for doom and gothic inspired metal for me. The bands I mentioned released iconic albums within that decade, which still receive their classic status today and deservedly so. Albums like Tales From The Thousand Lakes, Draconian Times and Amok, to name just three, have continued to inspire another generation of followers. Lichfield are one of the new wave of bands that have resurrected this era of music and have stepped up to the plate to pen the next few chapters. They have released a four track EP as an interim measure before they release a full debut album and hopefully hit the road to promote their slick, sharp and hugely atmospheric take on “gothic dark metal”.
I will try not to overdo the comparisons to previous bands because Lichfield are their own entity, a creation of three multi-talented and experienced individuals that came together because of their love for atmospheric, emotive and dark music. The melodies are haunting, and the vocals are disconcerting, which are the two key ingredients needed to pull off such evocative and often dramatic music.
“Eventless horizon” opens proceedings with synths and cleanly riffed chords that are veneered with clean vocals and a crisp fresh production. But with all good dark music, the vocals quickly turn murderous and demonic, summoning a darker and more sinister presence with lyrics such as “the breaking wheel of ceaseless sorrow to which we are strapped and bound, with lashes of an empty madness that tear the flesh away from bone” bellowing forth with a swarm of synths for company.The track sways back and forth playing off some medieval acoustic chords and soaring lead guitars courtesy of Sebastian (ex-Anubis, ex-Gates of Dawn) and a vocal delivery that changes and morphs into several beings. The second track, “Wayside” opens in a similar vein to the opening track but with a more gothic inspired delivery. Clean vocals duel with deep hellish growls while strident riffs and swelling solos dream up visions of power and grandeur. Orchestral vibes create the drama and theatre to the track making it both catchy and memorable.
The title track “The Dead Trees” opens with Amorphis inspired energy and gusto with a wailing guitar and pounding percussions courtesy of Nico (ex-Gates of Dawn, ex-Hands of Fate) that wouldn’t look out of place in Sentenced’s Amok. More synths and orchestral chants bleed through as lucifer’s own vehement voice rumbles above. There’s drama, theatre and talent on show here and all in equal measure. The closing track of the EP “To Hell” is a much more straight forward track with its faster paced rhythm section and more direct delivery. It’s heaving with melody and hooks and leans more towards a direct style of death metal. That’s not to say that its not punching and thundering forth with power and drama, because it is. Lichfield are literally saturated in melancholic ferocity.
I befriended the man of many voices, vocalist Xavier through Facebook recently, and got an insight into his dedication and allegiance to heavy music. The man never rests on his laurels and if he isn’t working with Lichfield, Hangman’s Hymn or Plagueland, he’s exercising his poetic license in crafting deep and compelling lyrics that have become the gunpowder in all these bands arsenal. The underground scene needs grafters like this. These guys forge, promote, share and ultimately deliver the music that keeps us entertained and enthralled, and long may that continue.
To close the EP there’s a cover version of Amorphis’s “Black Winters Day” which is a huge and daring track to record. It’s not an easy task to follow the vocal styles of both Tomi Koivusaari and Tomi Joutsen, but Xavier does a sterling job here. Musically it’s absolutely on point and does the original versions justice. A lot of bands have tried to do covers and try to “make it their own”, and fail miserably. Lichfield bring their own natural form and sound to the track, keeping the melody, heaviness and brooding aura intact. A fitting way to close the EP and a very credible nod to times past. I look forward to a full album in the very near future, and equally look froward to reviewing it.