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Theatres des Vampires - Candyland

Theatres des Vampires – CD Review

Theatres des Vampires – Candyland

CD Info
Scarlet Records
11 Tracks
English Lyrics

The well-established Italian Goth Metal Band, Theatres des Vampires, has released their tenth full length album, Candyland, a change from their traditional, lyrical offering. This album, while still Goth in nature, is based on Pennhurst, that was once an asylum in Pennsylvania, in the United States. The asylum was known for its improper treatment of patients before being closed. To the band’s credit, they portray different aspects of the place, quite effectively throughout the album. There is a cover song which also adds to the effectiveness. Candyland is very theatrical in its presentation, and the listener can feel and hear the pain and suffering, in both the music and lyrics. The fact that there are several guest performers, vocal and instrumental, help to enhance the album.

Even though they are Italian, their name is French, since it is based on a fictional place made famous in novels by the Gothic Fantasy writer Anne Rice. Her “Theatres Des Vampires” is a Parisian Theatre where vampires performed as mortal actors in front of human audiences. The name is fitting, based on the band’s theatrical performances over the years.

Theatres des Vampires, as a band, began in 1994. They were originally known as Sepolcrum beginning in 1988. However, after releasing three demos, the name was changed to the current one, with two members separating from the other members, to form the band. Since then all of the original members have left, and the present band, in 2004, changed the sound from a Melodic Black Metal to Gothic Metal. In 1994, the band members included Lord Vampyr, guitar and vocals, and Count Morgoth on guitar and keyboards. Joining in 1995 was Agaharet on Drums and Fabian Varesi took over on keyboards in 1997, along with present members Simon Lijoi on bass, and Gabriel Valerio on drums. Simon and Gabriel also do backing vocals. There have been a multitude of guitarist including Incubus and Strigoi in 1999, Mortifer in 2001, and Stephan Befante in 2006, before present guitarist Giorgio Ferrante assumed the position this year. Present female vocalist Sonya Scarlet started out as a backup vocalist in 1999, along with former member, Justine Consuelo, before taking over lead vocals in 2004.

Throughout their history, Theatres des Vampires has released a variety of full-length albums, compilations, Demos, EPs, and videos. Demos include Nosferatu, eine Simphonie des Grauens (1995), and Promo 97 (1997). EPs that have been released include Iubilaeum Anno Dracula 2001 (2001) and Cult of Lahmia (2012). Two compilations have been released which are The (Un)Official History 1993-2003 (2003) and Desire of Damnation (2007), as well as The Addiction Tour 2006 (2006) and Moonlight Waltz Tour 2011 (2012), which are videos. Nine full-length albums have been released before Candyland, and they are the following: Vampyrìsme, Nècrophilie, Nècrosadisme, Nècrophagie (1996), The Vampire Chronicles (1999), Bloody Lunatic Asylum (2001), Suicide Vampire (2002), Vampyrisme... (2003), Nightbreed of Macabria (2004), Pleasure and Pain (2005), Anima Noir (2008), and Moonlight Waltz (2011).

This album opens with “Morgana Effect,” which is the only song that has a video. It opens with a light drum beat underneath ethereal, synthesized keys. As Sonya enters, the guitar plays a three note staccato pattern. The guitars take over and the vocals become more urgent and almost shouting with some reverb. There is a nice, short guitar solo before the next verse. For that verse, the guitar has a driving beat. The vocals here go back and forth between normal voice and a filtered, faraway sound. The guitar adds an upward pattern that leads to questioning lyrics. There is a section before the end, where the voice sounds like someone going mad or insane. The end is similar to the beginning. Some lyrics to this song include:

I grab you but you're gone
The ending of a dream
Back to reality
Where does it end
Where does it begin
I can't see
I can't see

An interesting and sometimes bloody, (to be expected), video to the song is available here.

“Resurrection Mary,” opens with synthesized keys before the guitar and drums. Here, Sonya is telling a story and her voice is strong as the story unfolds. There are some nice vocal harmonies in this song provided by guest vocalist Eliza Pezzuto (Eli). In addition, she provides harmony in other songs. The band also provides vocals at certain parts in the song, particularly on the word “Run.” Between the instruments and the vocals, the listener can imagine a person running, whether real or imaginary. The driving instrumental part finishes out the song. This song leads into “Delusional Denial,” a song that has a more metal sound and features Sonya’s husband, Tiziano Panini, who performs here under the name, Billy Cooper. The guitar features large leaps with a driving drum underneath before settling on a rhythmic pattern. The female vocals enter with questions about sanity. The male singer is very effective with his voice filtered and sounding like a doctor, whose conversation is being recalled by the female singer. The song ends similar to the beginning with the keys joining the guitars in the large leaps. Some lyrics include:

"You're alive, it's a delusion, it's in your mind"
I can't feel it anymore
"You're playing with your own life"

With the same name as the album, “Candyland” is sort of creepy as it describes the room that a lot of the children who were patients stayed. Over a synthesized sound, a child voice sings a verse of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” What is creepy about it is that the voice gets softer and the words take longer, almost like the child is trying to remember them. Sonya shows great expression and emotion in this song as she sings about the pain a child would feel being placed here. There is a mixture of fear and sadness as she describes how children were taken away at night, never to return, while wondering when it would happen to them. In the softer parts of the song, a piano plays a short countermelody. Also, there is some female vocal harmony present. Midway through the song, Sonya sings the first part of the child’s song. After that, with pain, the vocals represent the despair knowing that the child will remain there. The heavy guitar sound gives way to screams and evil laughing, and the piano takes over for an interlude. A guitar hooks brings in the vocals one more time before the piano ends the song.

“Your Ragdoll” opens with keys playing an ostinato before being joined by the guitar. This song, also has Sonya expressing sadness, and there is close harmony in the chorus. In the middle of the song, there is a back and forth between the guitar and the keys. Two thirds of the way through, there is a symphonic metal touch, and the keys play an ostinato under whispering. Sonya’s voice leads the guitars and drums back in until the end of the song. A bell-like sound opens “Pierrot Lunaire,” and guest musician, Francesco Sosto (The Forshadowing), plays keyboards. The guitar brings in the female vocals, which has a melancholy sound. For the chorus, Sonya uses the upper range of her voice, as she sings lyrics to the bell melody that opened the song. She goes back and forth from the upper to lower ranges with relative ease. In addition to the keys, there are two extended guitar solos, and a very nice solo on keys. The bell sound ends the song. Another nice touch to this album is their cover of “Photographic” by Depeche Mode. It is interesting hearing a song with a driving, dance beat, while a voice portrays sadness. Overall, they do a nice job with the cover and it does fit in with the album.

The song, “Opium Shades,” is interesting contrast vocally. The instrumental part stays pretty consistent throughout the first part of the song. However, the vocals are strained as they describe what leads up to the medication. The next part is lighter, and higher in sound, with harmony, almost like the medication has taken effect, and this leads up to the title of the song. The guitars take over with drums underneath and this leads to the keys, with random drum shots. A piano takes over with the melody, before the light vocals reenter. The guitar closes out the song.

“Seventh Room” is a song of contrasts and features guest vocalist Fernando Ribiero (Moonspell). The song opens with a piano playing. Contrasting that is the guitars with some whispering before the guest vocalist enters. Sonya enters and then there is a part where Fernando and the band joins, forming a vocal chorus. An extended interlude is played where the guitar and drum starts out, with the keys playing a countermelody. While all this is going on, there are spots of whispers. Straight drums beats lead into the final verse sung by Sonya and Fernando, and the guitars and drums finish the song. Some interesting lyrics are:

Purple, green and gold
Dancing on the wall
All but the seventh so dark and so cold
Black is everywhere
St your corpse I stare
This is the seventh, so dark and so cold

“Autumn Leaves” is the final song on the album. This song is different in that it sounds more like a ballad compared to the other songs. A piano opens the song played by guest musician Luca Bellanova (ex-Inner Void, ex-Stormlord). It sounds similar in a way to “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. The female vocals have a faraway sound to them in telling a story. Sonya then changes gears with a very sad and melancholy sound. The middle of the sound is stronger with guitar and drums, while Sonya maintains the sad voice. The piano takes the melody during the interlude and the verse and chorus are repeated once again. The song has a symphonic ending to it with the piano, lush strings, and a bell-like tone. One other interesting aspect to this song is that it has a waltz feel to it, showing the band’s ability to expand their style.

All the songs are good enough to be my favorite, yet, surprisingly, my song is toward the beginning of the album. It is “Parasomnia,” and anyone who has experienced not being able to sleep, will understand this song perfectly. It gives the listener the experience when one has the inability to sleep, and how the body and mind react. The drums and a heavy guitar ostinato open. While the guitar continues, the drum adds some heavy, accented drum strikes. At the end of the lengthy intro, the keys do an upward arpeggio sound to lead into the vocals. Sonya sounds almost like she is out of breath and with a staccato touch to her voice. Underneath her voice the instruments are driving the song along. The chorus part of the song also is very choppy. Next, there is some nicely done guitar riffs and solo that intertwine with her voice. The second round is very similar to the first verse. There is a straight drum beat with some light guitar that lead into the “Tick-Tock” part of the song, reminding the listener of a clock. With her voice, Sonya is able to bring out the frustration and despair that comes with the inability to sleep. The driving instruments continue the pattern up to the end, and then the song ends with sound of a gun being loaded and fired. Some interesting lyrics are:

Tick tock, tick tock
Goes the clock
Time flows backwards
For a while it will stop
My nightmare comes again
Tick tock
Goes the clock
Time strokes once more
And I'll be just a prey
My nightmare comes again

Now that I have reviewed several albums from Goth/Dark Metal Bands, I must say that I enjoyed Candyland, by Theatres Des Vampires. The songs are a perfect fit for the subject matter, and being from Pennsylvania, I am familiar with the reputation of the closed asylum at Pennhurst. There was a lot of mistreatment of patients, and that is portrayed through several of the songs. The album has plenty of energy, yet pain and melancholy is brought out when needed. The lyrics are very suitable, and the vocals are strong. Instrumental parts are complimentary to the vocals and all the parts play an equal, yet important role. The guest vocalists and instrumentalists are an enhancement to Candyland. For those who like Symphonic/Goth/Dark Metal, this album is a must. People who like to experiment or get a taste of a different genre should also listen to it. For additional information on the band, please check out the following links: