Vera : It looks like gothic rock is having a revival these days. Grave Pleasures is jubilated, Soror Dolorosa recently released a stunner and with Then Comes Silence, also Nuclear Blast has a new strong representative of the genre (to name a few). In this case, things are different. The early days of Stillborn can be situated somewhere half the eighties. Even before gothic was categorized under that flag, they made a dark, morbid record ‘Necrospirituals’, one that caused some controversy here and there. Some people consider it a cult classic nowadays.
Before the Gothenburg based band could realize the tour offers at that time, there were problems in the band and vocalist Kari Hokkanen left the group. The others went on for a while, but without much success. Yet bands like Paradise Lost, Entombed and Cathedral occasionally refer to these Swedish guys as early influence. In 2016 the original line-up came together again and next they worked at what would become the comeback album ‘Nocturnals’. The four-piece entered the studio with producer Henrik Stendahl and came out of it with ten songs that sound quite organic and rough, in despite of the polished style. One might call this old school gothic, before too much pop influences popped up in the genre; even if the structure and texture of the songs is kept basic, with easygoing catchy choruses and convenient lengths around four or five minutes per track. The lyrics are dark indeed, but again simple. The voice of Kari Hokkanen is really deep and low, sometimes even verging to crooning. But now and then he handles a rougher timbre for a moment (without speaking of proper grunts). And so we can enjoy ten fetching songs, from time to time with remarkable beautiful guitar leads (for instance in ‘Oblivion Reloaded’, ‘They Forgive Nothing’ and ‘Anathema’). The latter track is very catchy and one of the highlights. The melodic leads are a surplus value, although in the end the general impression is that everything is rather sluggish and relaxed, no flashy moments. But that belongs to the kinship with doom. All in all a diverting record, without speaking of an epoch-making comeback.