Tales of Dark - Fragile Monuments
Solitude Productions
Gothic Doomdeath
6 songs (68'32")
Release year: 2006
Tales of Dark, Solitude Productions
Reviewed by Adam
If you’re like me, you enjoy visiting new places. While my current financial status prohibits me from offering any of you a physical visit, I can reasonably assume that this review will introduce many of you to a band who hail from a location you are not familiar with. Yes, this week’s stop on the journey through the roster of Solitude Productions takes us to Serbia, not generally regarded as a hotbed for metal bands. However, this does not stop doom band Tales of Dark from waving their flag high with their debut full-length album Fragile Monuments.

Tales of Dark play a romanticized hybrid of gothic metal and doom, which of course draws the immediate, and valid, comparison to My Dying Bride. The band obviously adhere to the old adage “the more, the merrier”, as evidenced by their seven member roster. In keeping with this grandiose theme, the production on this album, courtesy of keyboardist Davor Menzildzic, is positively stunning. In fact, I would say it’s the strongest of any of the bands on this label. The guitars are rich and full, but the drums appear to have been aided most by this glossy production. There are times when cheap production actually adds to the sound, but this is rarely the case in doom, so this is a definite plus in my book. As you might have guessed from the My Dying Bride reference, this band employs a fair amount of keyboards and soaring doom melodies, accompanied by both gothic style vocals and the ever present death growl, both masterfully performed by frontman Arpad Takac. In particular the growls grab the listener’s attention. Outside of Shape of Despair’s Pasi Koskinen, I personally cannot remember hearing vocals with this much evil flair. During the second track, Mephistorium, there are a few moments, particularly around the five-minute mark, where Takac’s vocals sound as if they can almost stand alone. It is also on this track where the band makes good use of the contrasting tradeoff between these evil groans and the gentle, silky vocals of Jovana Karajanov. While hers are not the strongest female vocals I have heard, they are certainly adequate for the purposes of this album. On the flip side, one item that doesn’t consistently work for me is the Menzildzic’s keyboards. While I fully appreciated the dark atmosphere they added to the fantastic opening track, Via Descendens, there were times that I almost felt as if they were getting in the way. During Via Descendens, they laid a deep and sorrowful foundation, giving the song a somewhat fantastical and large feel. Unfortunately, they try to do a little too much elsewhere, particularly during Of Grandiose Fevers and Passion Arcane (what a mouthful of a song title, by the way). Though I had no issues with the piano passage in the intro, the continuation of this sound throughout did not sit right with me. It’s almost as if it lies gracefully over the top of the guitars and vocals, which lessens their impact. Not only that, but, when coupled with the song’s long run time, it really makes things seem to drag on, making for an arduous listen. This is not meant to imply that the keyboards are not a necessary addition, as Luciferian Elegy sees their return to the enhancing effects they had on the opening track. Sadly though, by this point in the album, things had begun to get a bit stale for me. Luckily, the addition of an aggressive double bass approach utilized on Towering Grief Behemoth broke the aura of familiarity. I only wish the band turned to this style more often, as it is pulled off admirably and seems to suit them very well. The closing track, Serpent Wisdom, while not the strongest track on Fragile Monuments, contains a very powerful mixture of all the band’s strengths around seven and a half minutes in. A solid way to close out the album.

In summary, this is a good first effort. I definitely got the sense that I’d heard all this before. Then again, when hearing this style of doom, this is unfortunately expected due to the growing number of bands in this category. Luckily for Tales of Dark, they have a true cornerstone to build around in the vocals of Takac. There are certainly shining moments on this album, but there are also many opportunities for improvement. Nonetheless, fans of this style of doom will want to keep an eye, and an ear, on this band.
Killing Songs :
Via Descendens, Towering Grief Behemoth
Adam quoted 68 / 100
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