The beauty and the beast style of gothic doom is not an easy sound to master. Popularised by the likes of Draconian and Theatre of Tragedy (until that dingbat decided he wanted to be a robot), the key is the chemistry between the two singers. Many bands who try fall considerably short of the mark, but Aut Mori manage to hit it with their new album. They did have help from someone who knows a little bit about this sort of thing though, with Draconian’s own Jerry Torstensson having a hand in the production process.
I’ll get one thing out the way now. I don’t speak Russian, which has made deciphering the song titles a rather tricky process, as Aut Mori have been rather unhelpful by only including the titles in their own language. Not to be deterred however, I tracked down a friend of mine who was able to assist with the translations, so if he’s got any of them wrong, it’s his fault, I did try after all! The title track ‘The First Teardrop To Fall’ is the obligatory instrumental intro track that bands of this style like to use, however it is beautifully and richly done, and shortly leads into ‘My Song – Silence’. The guitar and drum sound are very similar to Draconian in their ‘Turning Season Within’ phase, and the pace is slow and brooding without being funereal. The ‘beauty’ element of the vocals is provided by Nati Chitadze whose voice is not the most powerful or soaring but is both tuneful and graceful, and that provides the ideal juxtaposition to Evgeniy Chepur’s deep booming and powerful ‘beast’ vocal. The balance between the two really is spot on, and from the moment Chepur’s voice kicks in, this escalates from merely pleasant to captivating. Maria Sorokina’s keyboards provide a rich and emotive background to things, whilst the guitars of Stepan Sorokin and Alexey Chernyshov’s guitars carve a mournful path through the introduction to ‘Heaven’. As with Draconian, aside from the excellent use of the vocals, the guitar melody has always been the chief weapon in the arsenal and the same is absolutely true of Aut Mori, with some of the guitar melodies providing a genuinely moving experience.
One slight problem is that the album never really changes pace, which may put some people off. I think the pace is just about right to maintain the attention overall, and Chepur’s voice never fails to grab the attention if your mind has maybe started to wander. Certainly from my perspective there was little chance of that happening as I’ve always been a fan of this style of gothic doom, and certainly when it is delivered with this sort of quality and conviction. The likes of ‘My Eternal Rain’ and ‘Elegy of Serenity’ are up there in quality with the likes of Draconian and My Dying Bride, as they manage to make the sound of sorrow so engaging and even uplifting.
It’s always a pleasure receiving albums from Solitude and Bad Mood Man as they are invariably a sign of quality, and in Aut Mori they have delivered another cracking album from a band I would love to hear more from. The songs may well be performed entirely in Russian, but that does not matter, as the beauty is in the sound and the performance. Since I got this it’s barely been off the player, and I suspect it’s going to be there for some time to come yet. Fans of the gothic doom sound should add this one to their collection immediately.
(9/10 Lee Kimber)