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Black Lilium - Dead Man's Diary Award winner

Black Lilium
Dead Man's Diary
by Mark Machlay at 03 March 2020, 4:16 AM

Last year, the band BLACK LILIUM released their debut album “Dead Man’s Diary”, strictly through the digital market and are now releasing it in a physical form. Progressing with the times, the band made a smart marketing decision releasing it digitally, most likely testing the waters and now with hype built the band can merely release it physically to further momentum in their progression with little more than some money invested in producing a physical disk. With the rise of streaming services and physical media consumed mostly by die-hard fans, the reduction of overhead costs is a smart one.

The band was formed through long time school friend's guitarist Marcel Wroblewski and drummer Jan Knoop who have been playing together since forming their first band in 1987. The two formed up again in 2013 with a singular goal to be melodic, heavy, and beautifully timeless. By 2014, their roster was complete, adding bassist Lasse Lammert, second guitarist Maurice Scholz and vocalist and keyboardist Felix Hochkeppel. With the musicality and hooks of bands like MUSE combined with the implied theatricality, similar aesthetic quality, and depth of bands like GHOST and HIM, BLACK LILLIUM have created a perfect blend of brooding, powerful and moving melodic metal. They also claim to call themselves “progressive” but nary more than a solo or two would ever claim they tread too far into that category. “Alternative Metal”, while a broad category made be a more suited title to their sound.

That’s not to detract from the music is itself, it’s full of massive hooks, interesting lyrics and plenty of amazing vocal harmonies. The mix is quite full and heavy creating a massive wall of sonic heaviness that is much deserved and earned based on the quality of the songs. The opener “Beast in Backseat” succinctly sets the mood with a synth heavy intro, subdued verses with inviting lyrics, crushing choruses with seductive lyrics and overall poppy sensibility that makes it an apt addition to modern rock radio. By “Demon in Disguise”, vocalist Hochkeppel shows he was a perfect addition and seems to have put in much overtime putting in vocal harmonies more places than is expected. His voice at times can sound rough and gritty like alternative rockers BREAKING BENJAMIN’s Benjamin Burnley – especially in the chorus of “Everything I Am” - but as he gets higher up in to his register, tends to delve into the thinner falsetto voice. It may be a stylistic choice because on other tracks, he can be heard belting out the higher harmonies. It would be interesting to hear him hit those higher notes in the main vocal line and could make for some captivating performances.

So, again, while it would be a bit of a misnomer to call their sound progressive – despite the crazy solo in the title track, “Dead Man’s Diary” – it is extremely melodic with a focus on wider appeal. It is a crime this band has not gotten more exposure as they have a unique blend of Gothic, melodic, even power metal at times with a pop sensibility that makes them very easily digestible by mainstream audiences. You’re listening to established musicians here and that is clear. The one downside I may say is it may be too easily digestible in some of the song structures. They can be a bit generic and as a first release from a younger band would be absolutely stunning. As they are established musicians, some of the generic structures could be innovated on their next release to avoid some of the sameness between tracks.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Beast In The Backseat
2. Paragon Of Imperfection
3. Demon In Disguise
4. Start All Over
5. Never
6. Walls Around My Soul
7. Everything I Am
8. The Ones You Made Us
9. My Purpose
10. Dead Man's Diary
11. Ghosts Without A Voice
Felix Hochkeppel - Vocals, Keys
Marcel Wroblewski - Guitar
Maurice Scholz - Guitar
Lasse Lammert - Bass
Jan Knoop - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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