Draconian - The Burning Halo
Napalm Records
Gothic Doomdeath
8 songs (54'09")
Release year: 2006
Draconian, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Adam

The unusual composition of the latest Draconian album, The Burning Halo, has triggered the unusual format of this review. In a Metal Reviews first, two writers will contribute to the same review.


Ever since the release of their wondrous masterpiece Arcane Rain Fell, fans of Sweden’s Draconian have eagerly awaited the next step. Thankfully, Draconian seem to understand how painfully slow this time period can drag on. Their assistance comes in the form of The Burning Halo, a segue album containing new material, remastered demo tracks from the past, and even cover songs.

There are the three new songs on The Burning Halo, which wash emotional doomdeath over the listener similar to tracks found on Arcane Rain Fell. A worthwhile reintroduction comes in the form of She Dies, a showcase of the epic union between the growl of Anders Jacobsson and the angelic cries of Lisa Johansson. She Dies is a fine effort, which suffers only a bit from a spoken word passage in the middle that could have easily been shortened. Then again, perhaps I am just being overly critical of this song due to the majesty of what follows. Indeed, Through Infectious Waters (A Sickness Elegy) is far and away the cream of the crop of new material on The Burning Halo. After a brooding opening march somewhat reminiscent of Shape of Despair, a methodically descending riff accompanied by an operatic gasp charges in. I have listened to this song countless times, and that transition has sent a chill down my spine and given me goose bumps on every occasion. This is probably the darkest song on this album as well. However, a new, lighter riff with piano aid carries the listener out of the darkness before falling off and leaving what has been the base point of Through Infectious Waters all along, the simple sound of a beating heart. The Dying is an interesting experiment in pace for Draconian. While it starts slow and mournful, double bass and accelerated riffing explode around the four-minute mark. This should definitely jolt the listener’s attention. The switch between these two styles is a difficult one, but it is pulled off well and, hopefully, will continue to drop in on future efforts.


People and music outfits alike have to pass through their formative years. Draconian chose to retrospect and showcase theirs as a part of The Burning Halo. Three tracks on this album are not new, but rather facelifted, in terms of production, from the 1999 demo The Closed Eyes of Paradise. I’d say it was a good timing to give the fans a piece of Draconian history as the band gathers strength, since the demo was never released before.

The early Draconian, turns out, was a lot more about gothic romanticism than dejected doom-and-gloom. All three demo tracks are quite a bit more up-tempo than the new tracks on The Burning Halo. I am not talking about racing thrash here, but there is a lot more of double bass driven melodies and epic chords in The Morningstar and The Gothic Embrace than can be found elsewhere on the album. Piano is very prominent on The Gothic Embrace and violin turns in a number of melodies. Anders Jacobsson and Lisa Johansson duets are extremely effective, an albatross of things to come as evidenced by Death, Come Near Me, my 2005 Song of the Year. Anders low growls are beautifully attenuated by Lisa’s gentler touch, but she is quite capable of carrying the torch alone in The Morningstar.

The early Draconian, even though still playing gothic melodic doomdeath, were significantly more life affirmative with their music (sorry, no way for me to consult the lyrics booklet as there is none in The Burning Halo for these demo tracks to be able to measure the words against the music). At any rate, coffin linings of The Dying are a few years away.

If I was one of the Napalm execs listening to this demo back in a day, I would have signed Draconian as well. The quality is evident. With piano and violin, creeping in symphonic tendencies and growl-and-soprano duets the Swedes stood once step away from becoming a band in the mold of many other European gothic acts like After Forever or Epica. I am glad they didn’t take it, and followed the deeper, more gnawing, heart call giving a nod to My Dying Bride and Yearning. The result has been a ton of sorrow with only a vestige of former romantic flings.


The first of two short cover tracks closing out The Burning Halo is On Sunday They Will Kill the World, originally performed by Ekseption. Though prior to this album, I have never heard this song, or this band, Draconian have stated that they intended to accentuate the portions of the original which more closely match their current sound. As the song turns out sounding very similar to the rest of the work, it appears they have succeeded in this regard. Doom fans are in for a treat as the final track, Forever My Queen, is a cover of the much revered classic outfit Pentagram. Although the result sounds entirely different from your standard Draconian fare, it is still an amazing homage to a great band that pays astute attention to detail.

While it is not an unquestioned masterpiece, The Burning Halo should adequately tide fans of Draconian over for the time being. In fact, this album really has the ability to stand on its own next to their previous output. The new material, combined with the covers and demo tracks, make for a nice glimpse into the history and future of this band, a future that, if I may say, looks very bright.

Killing Songs :
Through Infectious Waters (A Sickness Elegy), The Morningstar, Forever My Queen
Adam quoted 84 / 100
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Draconian that we have reviewed:
Draconian - Sovran reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
Draconian - A Rose for the Apocalypse reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
Draconian - Turning Season Within reviewed by Alex and quoted 93 / 100
Draconian - Arcane Rain Fell reviewed by Alex and quoted 93 / 100
Draconian - Where Lovers Mourn reviewed by Jack and quoted 90 / 100
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