Italians by day Berliners by trade the musical Vladiators – Vlad In Tears – beckon their fifth album into battle. Armed with an unremitting spirit they’re in defiance of the status quo and they’re Unbroken.
Formed in 2007 and originally based in Italy Vlad In Tears have had a tumultuous career in music. Yet that hasn’t quelled their drive to create dark metal orientated symphonies that are hard hitting and bound to provide solace to misunderstood otherkin. Self-professed Gothics, the new album shares more in common with Linkin Park than it does with Peter Murphy.
Unbroken has the grandeur of an Anime soundtrack, where its tuberous songs would fit quite snugly over the intro/credits sequence of a Japanese Cartoon, possibly sparking a whole new genre of Animetal. Then again, probably not as unfortunately, Vlad In Tears don’t offer anything clever through their chosen medium.
Instead they chose to deliver a solid metal affair that’s covered in ivory tinkles. The guitars give up southern inspired death riffs smoothed over with the forever classy piano to illicit daring images of misery and tragedy. Unbroken may not be the edgiest shard of the looking glass but it can still cast a pretty reflection on the wall.
While the riffs are hung with a heavy grip on metal there’s not much in the way of sexy bass lines, a founding principle of Goth music, and something which is mandatory when defining your music as Goth. Bela Lugosi can stay dead here as there’s not much play six notes under middle C. The uninteresting bass lines humour the melodies and don’t participate much in waking the rhythm section.
The dynamics of the instruments pre-production are given a wide berth but with near to no panning the flatness of the album makes for background noise and fails to engage or inspire the space outside its own limited range. It’s an album so heavy that it floats like a lead buoy in a sea of control frequencies.
It could be better with more definition to the sound of the album than the tone of the album, but their execution is mechanical and as such the resulting form is almost robotic. Although Vlad In Tears have grasped all the fundamental aspects of what makes an evocative album Unbroken is its own self-fulfilling tragedy.