Vera : What if the Waterboys happened to be huge doom metal fans and had a wide range of folk instruments available? Then you would get the surprise of the month, called Ball Noir and their sophomore album ‘Lost Serenades’. This Dutch band is made up of ex-members from Eria d’Or (the illustrious doom metal collective once opening act for Anathema) and the balfolkband Orfeo. They play medieval metal and until now they mainly got recognition on festivals of that ilk.
They are not only influenced by Estampie and Qntal, but also by Anathema and My Dying Bride. We already notice that in the doom-laden opener ‘Cage Of Eden (Andro)’in which the leading melody reminds us a bit of MDB. Ball Noir appears to have quite a unique alchemistic recipe. In addition to their rock instrumentation, they abundantly make use of hurdy-gurdy, bass clarinet, harp and theremin, but keyboard wizard Rutger van Krieken isn’t afraid of any hyper modern electro fragments either. The passionate vocals of guitarist Jeroen Gilhuys – a newcomer in the band so it seems – are of a clear storytelling kind, only in the two first songs he adds any firm growls when needed. Strong! However, the so-called doom influences will not prevent them from having success, since slow – and very beautiful – songs such as ‘Never Again (Waltz)’ and the desperate sung ‘The Veil (Mazurka)’ (relished with spoken fragment and harp) may rather be considered as captivating ballads than as doom heaviness. And above all they firmly rock as hell, that’s the focus. There are three instrumental songs on the album, but the instrumentation is various enough to make essential songs of them as well. In ‘Shaking Ground (Scottish)’ guitar takes over lead vocals, ‘Opus 38 (Hanterdro)’ makes us appreciate bass clarinet and ‘After The Storm (Polska)’ is doom laden with harp. In order to have ultimate satisfaction of this six-piece band, we recommend the longer songs. ‘Drifting (Suite Plinn)’ not only has a strong chorus, but it excels in magnificent interactions between introvert and heavy passages. In ‘The Other (Andro)’ success is guaranteed with amazing harp play and fetching guitar melodies, without ever missing that typical pinch of doom extravaganza. This is top notch class from an exceptional band!