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De Arma – Strayed In Shadows

De Arma
Strayed In Shadows
by Paul LaPlaca at 19 July 2021, 3:09 AM

Gothish duo, De Arma returns with their second album, “Strayed In Shadows” a follow up to their full length debut in 2012. The project is self-styled as melancholic, vibrant, goth-metal, synthwave, and pop and their sound and production is firmly rooted in 80’s style heavily processed guitars and washy ambience and reverbs. Frank Allain is replaced by Andreas Petterson on vocals.

The album starts off with an atmospheric wash of pulsating synths that burst into punchy guitar chord section layered with a clean, arpeggiated pattern that floats over everything until the chorus hook. The vocals are a pleasant blend of standard, proper English toned low-tenor and baritone harmonies but there isn’t enough of a unique edge to set the band apart. Strongly reminiscent of THE CULT’S debut “LOVE”, THE CURE, and SISTERS OF MERCY, DE ARMA is a time-capsule that can transport you back to college days if you grew up on this stuff but I can’t help but wonder how this would sound with a totally modern approach.

Next up is, “City Vultures” a decidedly more rocking track with heavily distorted guitars driving an 1/8th note rhythm through the verse into a half-time chorus. PETTERSON’S voice is more forceful and full-throated here. There’s a nice clean breakdown section here with nasty, buzzy bee, guitar melodies that had me thinking of QUEENSRYCHE’S “Operation Mindcrime”.  There are definitely a wide variety of styles and tones here.

“Illusions of Love” is more open and grooving, the drums flow nicely into a laid back clean guitar section that is cloud like in it’s feel, then a huge surprise by a guest female vocalist who comes in and just lifts this song to the stratosphere. The juxtaposition of the vocalists and harmonies is simply brilliant. This is the first single off the album and my response is, “Well YEAH.” It’s heartbreaking and chill-inducing. There’s something special about this song and it stands out very strongly from the rest of the material.

“Funeral In My Brain” brings many different styles and textures together running a bouncy triplet verse into a driving, double-bass drum fueled transition to a sad and soaring guitar melody. Again, the production and approach on this is so firmly in tribute to the 80’s goth and sort of low budget approaches to mixing, it leaves me wanting something sounding less dated “Days Of Judgement” features the return of guest female vocals but doesn’t have the impact it should.

This album has it’s high points, to be sure with “Illusions Of Love” being the standout track but it can be hit or miss in places. There is a lot to like here though with some very specific treatments on vocals and drums that feel like a tribute to 80’s-90’s goth and guitar-driven, synth rock. They list KATATONIA and ANATHEMA as influences and I would add BAUHAUS, THE SMITHS, and SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES as well.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

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4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Pain of the Past
2. City Vultures
3. Illusions of Love
4. Funeral in My Brain
5. Horror in the Dark
6. Days of Judgment
7. You Were Blood
Lineup:
Andreas Petterson – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keys
Johan Marklund – Drums
Record Label: Trollmusic
     


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Edited 01 August 2021
 

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