Flowing Tears

Serpentine

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It's hard to call experienced darkwave practitioners Flowing Tears veterans, considering their medium age of around 23 at the time of Serpentine's release. But veterans they were when they entered the studio to record this 12-song collection of tasty goth metal. Led by vocalist Stefanie Duchêne's smoky, hypnotic delivery and the skilled guitar/keyboard work of Benjamin Buss, new members Frédéric Lesny on bass and drummer Stefan Gamballa breathe extra life into Serpentine with fierce but unobtrusive performances. Clearly the star of this show, Duchêne does her best Shirley Manson-meets-Tori Amos-on-ludes impersonation throughout highlights like the waterlogged but quite coherent "Starfish Ride" and "Children of the Sun." Other standout moments occur when Duchêne and company vaguely echo acts as diverse and non-metallic as Concrete Blonde and October Project on "Portsall" and "Starfish Ride." Perhaps these flirtations with American adult alternative are more than chance associations, but Buss hammers out all the bleak riffing necessary to keep his band safely within darkwave's genre constructs. Metal enough to be interesting, goth enough to be mysterious, and tuneful enough to compel anyone who likes things melodic and heavy, Serpentine delivers on every front.

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