Release: September 19, 2019
Commemorated in these necrologies
Here written are your scarlet stories
After releasing two well received EP – “Scarlet Stories” (2013) and “Resurrection” (2015) –, and appearing at a number of festivals, Dutch progressive metal band Scarlet Stories have independently released their debut album “Necrologies” this September. What started out as mainly an acoustic project by guitarist Bram te Kamp and vocalist Lisette van den Berg, who created melancholic songs heavily influenced by progressive metal, in time Scarlet Stories expanded their sound to include heavier melodies, while still keeping the melancholy vibe of their earlier work.
Dark and twisted is their music, and dark and twisted it should be considering that the subject matter of the album is “a tribute to all animals and humans who suffered or died by the
greed of others. It acknowledges their battle, struggle or innocence. The songs tell stories about their suffering or how they died. Our stories show the dark side of humanity and are soundtracks
to emotions, injustice, murder, but also beauty and innocence”.
Prologue: scarlet stories
The tell-tale heart
Vingt mille lieues sous les mers
The gallows tree, pt. I: lullaby
The gallows tree, pt. II: the price you paid
The gallows tree, pt. III: R.I.P.
In blood and limbs and gore and clay
Nostalgia in a closed mind
Living, breathing, yesterday
Drawing influences from heavy metal, ambiental and doom, and exploring dark corners of the world, their take on progressive music is as unique as it as eclectic and innovative. The album feels very dramatic, though not necessarily theatrical, in the way it flows and the way the songs are arranged and performed, as Lisette’s powerful and dynamic vocals twist themselves so well around Bram’s and Carmen’s melancholic guitar melodies, and Tim’s drums beats, creating sinister tales that speak about humanity – the good, the band and the ugly. The extensive use of acoustic guitars, violins, and soft vocals create a sense of calm and serenity in an otherwise whirlwind of sounds and melodies. In these atmospheric passages we get to see the band’s versatility and craft as each instrument seems to bring forth a different nuance to the music, as for instance on the ominous opening track “Prologue: scarlet stories”, or on the gloomy “The gallows tree, pt. I: Lullaby”, or on the soft and beautiful “Living, breathing, yesterday”, or the first part of the otherwise jazzy rockish piece “The tell-tale heart”. Lisette’s masterful vocals guide the listeners through intricate passages of music that cover a wide variety of styles and genres from rock, to jazz and blues, to even some 70’s prog, all blended into a rather coherent sound where atmosphere and emotion are paramount factors. Case in point: “Vingt mille lieues sous les mers”, a complex song that keeps twisting and turning through its 11 minutes and 23 seconds of playtime.
On the other hand, there are songs that are maybe a bit more straightforward like “The gallows tree, pt. II: the price you paid” which is a very rock(ish) track by Scarlet Stories standards, or the doomy “In blood and limbs and gore and clay”, both tracks having nice belted notes that could almost rival Lzzy Hale or Floor Jansen (especially considering her work with Northward). The latter boasts a very good guitar solo that adds melody to the music, like a light shining in the darkness. “Dust” and “Craving” are mellow tracks with a bluesy approach to the vocals, that somewhat counterbalance the raw and heavy elements on display here, with their soft and gentle delivery. The build-up of the songs is very well done, as for instance on “Nostalgia in a closed mind” which starts on acoustic notes and slowly grows into a melodic piece with Sophie Ansems violin in the forefront that adds to the dramatism of the music. The use of samples adds a sense of reality and naturalism to the music as, for instance the sound of Thailand jungle cicade in “Prologue: scarlet stories” or the sound of wind blowing on top of a mountain in “In blood and limbs and gore and clay” making not just the music, but the stories, come alive in the most literal sense of the word.
In conclusion “Necrologies” ebbs and flows neatly between intense moments and more laid-back passages, taking the listeners on a captivating journey through the sonic universe that Scarlet Stories has so masterfully created. However, this is not one of those albums that give up all its secrets at once. Thanks to its layering and spotless production, courtesy of Joost van den Broek, “Necrologies” keeps on surprising the listeners even after several listening sessions.
Rating: 9 / 10
Lisette van den Berg – vocals
Bram te Kamp – guitars & acoustic guitars
Carmen Raats – guitars
Maarten Grimm – bass
Tim Kuper – drums
Sophie Ansems – violins