Coronatus – Terra Incognita
Recently there was a bit of a discussion on the forums as to how many bands are being mislabeled as gothic metal, and how that genre has been changing over the years. Coronatus is an example of a band I frequently see labeled as gothic, but at least judging by their latest album, Terra Incognita, they are not a band who choose to confine themselves within one genre. I can hear elements of both folk metal and symphonic metal throughout the album, and trying to give the album just one label would be misleading, I think. Either way, from the very beginning to the very end I was delighted with what I heard, and it only got better with each listen.
There are plenty of bands who mix female vocals with male vocals (often harsh male vocals), but it isn’t nearly as common to find a dual female fronted band, which is exactly what Coronatus is and has always been, from what I’ve read. Apparently they have seen a few lineup changes over the last couple of years, but a newcomer with no knowledge of the band sure wouldn’t guess that, since the soprano vocals handled by Ada Flechtner and alto vocals handled by Marieke Makosch blend together beautifully. Using two lead singers allows for great harmonies, which they do quite a bit of. Both have very light voices, and no matter which one is singing, it’s always pleasant.
The album opens with the intense “Saint Slayer”, which features some punchy riffs, and this song is definitely gothic, with its dark atmosphere and great use of harmonies. One of my personal favorites. Then the sound changes a bit for “Fernes Land” which introduces the folk metal elements, and these are especially prominent during the instrumental section. It also happens to be the first of several songs to use German lyrics, which I think is a nice touch because I generally don’t care too much about lyrics anyway. I always find it’s best to hear a singer in their native language, so they can more easily show their full capabilities (Actually, some of my favorite bands have no English lyrics whatsoever!). The third song “Dead Man’s Tale”, another personal favorite of mine, is barely gothic at all. Instead, it is some very epic symphonic metal, with excellent choir vocals and an unforgettable chorus I still have stuck in my head as I write this review.
The songwriting is generally straightforward and very catchy, but it never becomes boring or repetitive. There are some excellent arrangements throughout, and the songs are quite varied. Not to mention having songs in two different languages helps keep things interesting. I was also impressed by the guitar work, as most albums of this type are more about the keys (which also sound very good), but here we have some really good riffs that surprised me, particularly on “Saint Slayer” and near the beginning of “In Signo Crucis”.
For all my talk of this album mixing different genres, gothic metal is probably the most prevalent, and the title track is the type of song I was expecting to hear a lot of on this album, since it is pure gothic. It is an excellent end to an excellent album. Other highlights include “Hateful Affection”, the very epic “In Signo Crucis” (which is actually the end of a trilogy of songs, conveniently placed together), and the beautiful ballad “Vor Der Schlacht”.
All in all, Terra Incognita shows a band who can convincingly combine a few genres together, instead of confining themselves to just one genre. From the excellent dual lead vocals to the impressive guitar work and very catchy songwriting, everything is handled extremely well. One of my favorite gothic/symphonic albums of the year.
Travis Green’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5