Last year saw the digital release of Dead Man’s Diary, the debut album from progressive melodic metallers Black Lilium. To provide an injection of fuel to its ear grabbing presence, the German outfit has just unleashed it in physical form, another reminder and nudge on the rich attention its impressive exploits deserves.
You could say the seeds to the band were first sown in the school days of guitarist Marcel Wroblewski and drummer Jan Knoop, the pair friends who subsequently played together in their first band in 1987. Jumping forward to 2013 and the pair began to work together again with Black Lilium formed a year later. In time its line-up was completed by guitarist Maurice Scholz, bassist Lasse Lammert, and vocalist/keyboardist Felix Hochkeppel, a quintet swiftly showing their imagination, craft, and bold adventure within Dead Man’s Diary.
There is something familiar but more so boldly individual about the band’s sound, its melodic seduction and rousing physical roar something akin to a fusion of Malum Sky, Silent Descent, and Voyager with a potent splash of early My Chemical Romance. Album opener Beast In The Backseat quickly insists of a predominate uniqueness to the band’s sound though, the song a swiftly and persistently striking introduction to the band for ears. Keys spread an engaging mesh first, rhythms lurking in its midst before triggering a voracious stride complete with swinging beats and the instantly delicious grievous grumble of the bass. There is an instinctive catchiness to the Black Lilium sound in general which just as quickly soaks the first track even as it calms a touch for the entrance of Hochkeppel striking tones. Every note and syllable comes with an inherent swing, the imaginative dexterity of voice and sound prowling every twist and moment with the same tenacity.
It is a great start to the album and straightaway Paragon Of Imperfection builds on it. An electronic reflection initially hugs ears, keys a thoughtful intimation as all the while darker shadows brew around them. Drama tints every evocative caress before Hochkeppel’s throat sparks another surge of contagious agility and energy which too embraces a melodic heart already bared. The volatility at the soul of the track never truly erupts but brings extra appealing drama to the encounter before Demon In Disguise out shines both with its virulent character and almost prowl like gait. As siren-esque as the embodiment of dangerously dark temptation that is its central protagonist, the outstanding song infests as it seduces, invades as it charms; its shadow wrapped moment of calm as magnetic as the galvanic roar driving its impressive presence.
As all tracks within the release next up Start All Over effortlessly fuses light and dark emotion and intensity with rich enterprise and imagination; the nurturing of a fine line in unpredictability within a fluid landscape of infectiousness extra captivation. The rhythms of Knoop and Lammert bite as they tempt and encourage, keys and guitars weaving a just as compelling persuasion within the track’s dark serenade while both Never and Walls Around My Soul seriously aroused with their respective uninhibited creative agility and emotive brooding. The first again is the epitome of one of the band’s stirring traits which helps shapes the album, its sound physically stalking body and imagination as it manipulates both into eager engagement with organic almost pop like catchiness while its majestic melancholy lined successor teases and tempts intimate shadows whilst brewing its own singular virus of invigorating sound and emotional orchestration.
Across the likes of equally inward seeking Everything I Am and The Ones You Made Us with its bold declaration, the band’s ever varied blend of flavours and captivation adds greater depth and captivation to Dead Man’s Diary; darkness, inner light, and the melancholic beauty which pervades the whole of the release uniting with individual attention hounding craft and a combined imagination which never lets expectations settle. If not quite breaching the depth of lust as incited by earlier tracks both offerings left ears and pleasure enriched, the following My Purpose similarly nurturing quick and increasing greed for its swiftly established distinction.
The closing pair of the album’s title track and Ghosts Without A Voice ensured Dead Man’s Diary left as dramatically and powerfully as it began, the former rising from a solemn sigh on melodic guitar threads to craft an incendiary pyre of emotion and sound; Hochkeppel’s continuing to impress vocals exposing heart and intensity. The final track almost infernally nags before opening up its electro metal resourcefulness and suggestion; a continuing rich temptation as the song unfurls its aggressive metal and invasively contagious trespass. Both songs alone left a hunger for more, an appetite severely exposed and escalated with every listen of this exceptional album.
So whether preferred as files or as something firmly grasped in the hand on CD, Dead Man’s Diary should seriously be checked out and indeed with great releases like this Black Lilium are unlikely to remain in the shadows of recognition for much longer.
Dead Man’s Diary is out now across most stores.
Pete RingMaster 18/02/2020
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