Johan Ericsson has what I would describe as a touch of Peter Tägtgren syndrome, in so much as he is a complete workaholic. Not satisfied with being guitarist for gothic doom heavyweights Draconian, he is also the driving force at Doom:VS and Shadowgarden. Clearly having decided that the niggling little half hour window in his daily schedule needed filling, he has also given his considerable talent to When Nothing Remains. The fit is a good one, as When Nothing Remains perform a similar style of gothic doom to Draconian, so this is not so much of a creative leap as the gothic pop rock of Shadowgarden. This is not all about Ericsson however as this is primarily the work of Jan Sallender and Peter Lausten, both formerly of The Cold Existence.
The tone is both relaxing and mournful as opening track ‘I Forgive You’ eases itself in, bringing with it the inevitable comparisons to Draconian and The Morningside; the Draconian element not only due to Ericsson’s contribution but also for the late addition of Jerry Torstensson on drums. The pace and melody throughout the album has all the hallmarks of Russian gothic doom, being just above funereal and with an emphasis on the melodic elements of the tracks that largely overshadows the doom elements, but in a complimentary manner rather than overbearing. The vocals are a trade-off between the harsher vocals of Sallender and the clean vocal of Ericsson, and whilst Ericsson’s clean style is decent enough, it’s the force and weight behind Sallender’s voice that really offers the value in this band with ‘She Died In Autumn’s Rain’ and the title track being perfect examples of the aggressive vocal style.
The production on ‘Thy Dark Serenity’ is nothing short of outstanding, with a crisp rich and clear sound for all elements of the music that is especially noticeable with the electronically simulated instruments such as pianos and clarinets which sound not only incredibly realistic, but warm and enriching, especially on the opening track. There is really little to fault musically with When Nothing Remains, yet for some reason despite my clear affection for this album on a musical level, I also find it strangely difficult to engage with. Whilst it manages to press all the right buttons in terms of content and composition for me, the main thing it seems to lack is a hook, and it rather pains me that the most memorable part of the entire album seems to be the first minute after which my attention has tended to drift. I know without question that I like it, just don’t ask me to hum any of the tunes. I considered whether this was a direct symptom of the relative popularity and subsequent saturation of the genre, but no. Whilst there are many bands performing this kind of music and at this kind of level, I still find a lot of it highly catchy and memorable, yet not in this case and I find that a shame. ‘Thy Dark Serenity’ comes highly recommended for fans of gothic doom, although I hope that you manage to find that elusive connection with the music, because for me it is the only thing holding it back.
(7.5/10 Lee Kimber)