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Flame, Dear Flame – Aegis Award winner

Flame, Dear Flame
Aegis
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 23 August 2021, 2:32 AM

FLAME, DEAR FLAME is a doom metal band from Germany who formed in 2017.  After releasing an EP in 2019, they have presented us with their full length debut “Aegis.” Jesus H Christ what a stunning album "Aegis" is!  Coming in during the second half of a year already full of great doom albums, FLAME, DEAR FLAME have arrived to help rearrange the best albums of the year thus far. Considering it is their first full length, the band has some ambitious ideas. This massive album is actually just two songs, each of them divided into multiple parts: "The Millennial Heartbeat" encompasses three parts that deals with nature and its forces and "The Wolves and the Prioress," is the later half of the album with four parts that tells the story of a feral child.

Although each suite of songs have plenty of moments of both light and heavy elements, "The Millennial Heartbeat" is more direct in its approach while "The Wolves And The Prioress,' intertwines more acoustic/folk elements into their brand of doom. The results are an album that is filled with variety yet is still mostly cohesive.  It is an album that is also both heavy and relaxing, constantly yet effortlessly trading off between stone heavy atmosphere and gentle elegiac. Even seasoned bands can struggle with such a huge undertaking and concept but FLAME, DEAR FLAME handle it with stunning grace and poise.

For most people, vocals are the first element of most bands that stick out to people. That's okay because Maren Lemke’s voice is beyond most other vocalists I've heard this year. Her inflection, tone, emotion…in any way a singer can kick ass, she does and then some. Her clean vocals can carry somber tones of the wind, sound as massive as a mountain, or be as gentle as a babbling brook. She sings her ass off the entire time and makes strong proof for the argument that vocals are instruments too. Fortunately, as important as she is, the band isn’t relying on just her.  The other three members are equally as important—this is a band that works together for the greater whole even with each individual performance being sizable.

As the only guitarist, David has a large responsibility resting upon his shoulders.  His confidence is clearly unwavering as he spreads his tapestry out over each track.  A thick, doom riff comes just as natural to the song as a clean note, melodic tendencies or even the acoustic portions. Bassist Martin and drummer Jan both serve up an indispensable rhythm section, a challenge because of the different styles that switch across the album.  These two are more than up for it, being rock solid even when a shift in tone or mood happens across them.

This album is best judged when taken as a whole and listened straight through so I’m not going to do my usual and go through track by track.  Instead, I will talk about some of the more standout moments across the album and let you, dear reader, discover the wonders of this album yourself.  Before I begin, I do want to say this album does come across a bit uneven in approach.  I understand the album is basically divided in half between the two suite of songs and each one purposely takes a different approach but that doesn’t change the fact there is still some obvious gaps between them. As a listener, I think things would have better been served if “The Millennial Heartbeat” used more of the lighter/acoustic/folk elements from “The Wolves and the Prioress” for a smother transition to the second half.  Likewise, “The Wolves and the Prioress” could have benefited from being more generous with the heavier riffs.  With all that being said, the flow might not bother anyone and if you’re not a nit picky reviewer you might not even really care.  There aren’t any bad tracks here and both stories are equally as engaging.

The album begins with clean notes and lithe vocals from Maren, which seem to have a sort of actorly way to them. Honestly, she reminds me of several vocalists I’ve heard over years from bluegrass or singer-songwriter stuff…I find it works very well for doom metal.  Just because you play doom or any other style of metal doesn’t mean you can’t introduce other styles and this band exemplifies that. As mentioned, this half of the album uses more electric guitar even for the clean tones.  As such, the guitar solos are emotional and cut through the heavy riffs, creating a counter point even while complimenting them.  The riffs themselves are thick as one would expect, not unlike traditional or epic doom.

In other places, the riffs are just dirty and their tone really makes them stand out.  Often times when the riffs stop, the bass takes on that approach and the songs rest of those low end shoulders while the drums drive the music forward with a thoughtfulness that doesn’t include smashing the hell out of them. The second half of the album doesn’t appear to be connected to the first at all, which is what I spoke of earlier.  That business aside,  “The Wolves And The Prioress,” is more colorful and diverse because of the acoustic leanings.  They definitely add both a folk and Americana dimension to the songs which lends the story a more organic feel.  With the exception of Part III being totally acoustic, this story still brings the doom metal and, honestly, some of the best riffs are on this side.  As for the Part III, it is a well done track that is more than just a gap between the beefier tracks—it is a full fledged song that earns its place among the others no doubt.

The Wolves And The Prioress,” is also quite a bit more melodic than its counterpart; lush guitar and bass wave their melancholic charm among the riffs and acoustics….so many different aspects would normally clash but FLAME, DEAR FLAME are much too talented of songwriters to let that happen.

FLAME, DEAR FLAME have come out swinging, using “Aegis” has a might hammer of a stunning debut album, one that doom fans will obviously enjoy but I can also see this album pulling in non-metal fans and converting them over.  What is better than that?   I hope my review and all the others it will receive will help get the band the recognition they so obviously deserve.  It would be a shame for such a great album to not be reached by as many people as possible.  Get. On. This. Now.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Millennial Heartbeat Part I
2. The Millennial Heartbeat Part II
3. The Millennial Heartbeat Part III
4. The Wolves and the Prioress Part I
5. The Wolves and the Prioress Part II
6. The Wolves and the Prioress Part III
7. The Wolves and the Prioress Part IV
Lineup:
Jan Franzen - Drums
David Kuri - Guitars
Maren Lemke - Vocals
Martin Skandera - Bass
Record Label: Eiswenald
     


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Edited 27 November 2022
 

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