Hello, and welcome to another installment of the “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week feature, where I post a profile of a band I’ve discovered on the “Sign Me to Roadrunner Records” website. As always, the material here may be of varying quality, but each week you’ll have the opportunity to listen to music from a different band; my hope is, maybe you’ll find something you really dig. Then one day, when they explode in popularity and sell a million records, you can scoff at all the bandwagon-jumpers, saying you’ve been a fan since their first demo recording or whatever.
Today’s featured artist is Victorian, a symphonic/gothic metal band from Indonesia. As I understand it, they have been around since January 2008, and started out with only male vocals. After some lineup changes and about a year of inactivity, the band was reignited in mid-2010, deciding to instead feature a female vocalist. Their first demo single “Beginning of Sorrow” was released in early 2011, and the band has stated that they are hoping to expand their reach beyond their hometown of Bandung (West Java), especially using the internet as a means of promotion “with hope of acceptance from the metal lovers in Indonesia and abroad.” I first heard these guys in early 2011 and fell in love with that first single. Then, they contacted me in September saying they had added a second single, called “Weak” and they were looking for some opinions. After the jump I’ll tell you more about these two songs and you’ll get a chance to discover them for yourself.
The bio at the band’s Signmeto page lists only three actual band members: a drummer, guitarist, and bassist/growler. However, there are a couple different vocalists listed under “live members” and “studio members” so I don’t actually know who the girl is that sings on these songs. However, the first thing I notice is that she has an extremely nice voice. I would be inclined to describe it as “operatic” but I usually associate that with very high soprano singing with way too much vibrato — I am actually not a huge fan of female opera vocals; on the other hand, this has a good range to it and the singing style has a nice, modern sheen that is just very pleasing to the ears.
The first single, “Beginning of Sorrow”, leads in with the symphonics straight away — some piano, synth strings, and perhaps a glockenspiel introduce the song. The strings continue in the background as the guitars and drums enter, bringing on the metal aspect. Then that lovely female singing. The song continues to build, reaching a very interesting point at about the middle of its running time, with the two guitar parts (panned left and right) trading a few notes back and forth in the riff. Just after this a cool cello/bass unison line enters, which is followed by more singing, which has now reached its peak in terms of intensity. This whole sequence is definitely one of the biggest highlights to be found here. A couple of well-executed guitar solos continue to lead the listener in new directions on this journey, until finally everything drops out except for the piano, which wraps it all up with a short outro. All in all, an exhilarating ride, and one which is likely to stir up a deep emotional response.
The band’s latest single, “Weak” starts out a bit differently hitting you with some harder, more metallic sounds, right from the beginning. Unlike the previous song, this one also opens up with some masculine growly vox. Not only is this voice deep and bassy, with the harshness often associated with death metal, but it also sounds like the vocal track has been run through a bit of distortion. Some piano is also taking place in the background behind the metal, which then leads into the orchestral stuff and the female singing joining in once more. When I say “orchestral,” it seems to be somewhat more than just strings this time, because the sound is a bit thicker — perhaps it includes some brass and wind instruments as well. Anyway, this song also has a rather fast drum part, making me think of power metal a bit; more so than gothic metal, anyway. Around the middle of the song, the male vocals drop back in once more. Here they are a little less distorted-sounding, and more like talking than growling. It’s still quite deep and bassy, though, and I’m not exactly able to tell what language it is, although the female part is in English (at least most of the time).
Both of these songs are very good. There is nothing cheesy or over the top here, despite all the synth elements. The drums sound very tight (if they didn’t have a drummer listed in their lineup, I would have assumed the parts were actually programmed), and the guitar playing is all of high quality. In particular, the vocals really sound great. “Weak” introduces just a little bit of the male growing, and I found the contrast between the two singers here to be a nice touch; my only thought was that the growly vocal part could have been a little less distorted (I am not sure if this effect was done intentionally or not, but to me it comes across sounding like something was accidentally overloaded during the recording). Each song is just a little over the five minute mark, long enough to develop the ideas here and really give you a taste of what the band is trying to do, but they never overstay their welcome.
So, if you’re a fan of the symphonic metal genre, you owe it to yourself to head over to the Victorian Signmeto page to see what sort of sounds are coming out of Indonesia. Then, if you like what you are hearing, you can also check out the band on Reverbnation or Twitter.
I hope you enjoyed this post – please let me know what you think in the comments below. Until next week… if you happen to stumble across something you think is worth sharing (or if you are in a band that is trying to get your music heard), just drop me a line here. Thanks for reading.