Female fronted gothic doom bands are two a penny these days, as is so often the case when a genre becomes in vogue. Ukrainian sextet Edenian are the latest band to roll off the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ production line, where the angelic vocals of the female are lent further cuteness by the harsh and roaring monster that accompanies her. Done well, it is a powerful and intoxicating mixture, but as with any style of music, success is not a given, regardless of style. There are many things that Edenian do well, but they also falter on some of the more important ones.

The cover of Winter Shades is slightly misleading, and after fully bracing myself for an onslaught of mildly operatic warbling, the music is far closer to the style of early Theatre of Tragedy and Draconian, with a particular nod to the latter. Ok, it’s not so much a nod as a 100ft flashing neon sign proudly stating ‘We love Draconian’, but that’s not a deal breaker. Draconian are an excellent band and there are far worse bands to base your sound on. The key would be leaving your own signature on the music; that interesting thing that ultimately says, “Yes, we love what this band do, now see how we have taken their original concept and made it even more interesting with these few ingenious touches”. It soon becomes obvious though that whilst Edenian are more than competent musicians, originality and creativity are not their strong points. After the seemingly obligatory dull intro track, the first song ‘Thy Heavens Wept in Mourn’ is a promising start with a reasonably interesting if predictable structure to it. The guitars have a nice weight to them which complements the lighter parts well, but the nagging doubts start to creep in about half way through the track. There is something that isn’t quite right, something that is tipping the scales against them. It soon becomes very clear.

It’s about half way through the title track that I realise what it is that is periodically making me wince involuntarily whilst listening, and unfortunately it is the vocals, both male and female. Samantha Sinclair has a passable if thin voice, but it struggles at the higher end of the scale; but unfortunately that’s where it mostly operates. There are times when it gets rather noticeably off key and it’s all rather grating. Add to that the male vocals of Volodymyr Tsymbal, whose clean vocal is even more out of kilter and whose growled vocals are sometimes so overdone as to verge upon the comical, and it soon becomes clear to me where the biggest problem with Edenian lies. If they can both just rein their voices in a little, it would make a significant difference to the overall impression I’m certain.

Musically, there is little to fault Edenian on, save for a weak drum sound, but they never seem to even get close to really testing themselves. There are some interesting passages certainly, but the whole thing is rather pedestrian with nothing to set itself apart from the other hundreds of gothic doom bands out there at the moment vying for attention. I think there is definite potential in Edenian, and if they work on their weaker points, the next album could be excellent, but as it stands ‘Winter Shades’ is a very average, very forgettable album.

(5.5/10, Lee Kimber)