Cran Arcanaria - The End Of Nightmare
A gothic metal singer reassuringly unobsessed with her own goth cred.
Defining gothic metal in strictly musical terms has long been an inexact science. An artist’s gothicness tends to be measured more by aesthetics. With her black lace shawl, piercing blue stare and Swarovski diamond-encrusted microphone, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Cran for an ‘alt-idol’ with a ‘gothic lolita’ gimmick. However, her solo project Cran Arcanaria’s debut album, released back in March, is very much a metallic affair.
On the whole, The End Of Nightmare’s contents vacillate between melodic and symphonic power metal, working in varying doses of synthesized strings and choirs. Particular songs boast more overtly gothic elements, such as the harpsichord-fuelled The Princess Of Darkness with its pipe organ intro and funereal interlude.
Unlike many gothic acts, the album largely avoids extreme metal tropes like death growls. The one song they appear on, Evil Rose, is its only real misstep. Performed by Cran’s ex-arakiah bandmate Ippei Takahashi, the issue isn’t the growls themselves but rather how they’re deployed almost indiscriminately outside the choruses. For instance, the low-level gargling that bubbles away like white noise during the verses and solos is more annoying than unsettling.
While most of the songs were produced by Insurrecto guitarist naoki, it also features two collaborations which both make strong cases to be named the album’s catchiest offering. Coming hot on the heels of maudlin ballad Musou, ex-Octaviagrace keyboardist Reanne’s twinklingly upbeat BRAVE SWORD can feel a tad jarring at first, although listeners should’ve adjusted in time for Anatomy guitarist Yuki’s blissful solo.
Adrastea keyboardist X.Murai’s The Demon's Violet Moon shows a little more respect for Cran Arcanaria’s gothic identity by not being quite so shamelessly ebullient. The fact Cran was seemingly happy not to meddle with either melody speaks to one of the album’s strengths: a complete lack of obsession with its own gothicness. The songstress’s dedication to a plurality of sounds ensures a much more interesting listen, and one hopes a much broader appeal.
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