DE ARMA 🇸🇪 - ‘Strayed in Shadows’ (album)
Whilst I await new 2022 releases, I’ll try and briefly cover a few albums and EP’s that I missed in 2021, and clearly there’s a lot to catch up on. And I rarely venture into the world of goth rock, which is a shame because I often quote my 1st ‘proper’ gig as being the Fields of the Nephilim way back in the 90’s sometime, and Swedish band DE ARMA are very much in that mould, albeit maybe with less flour.
They released their debut album 10 years ago now (‘Towards the Shores of the End’), following that up with the equally cheery sounding ‘Lost, Alien and Forlorn’ a couple of years later, and are now back to brighten the mood with ‘Strayed in Shadows’. Inevitably there have been line up changes along the way, and the latest release features original founder Andreas Pettersson in a new vocalist role, mainly taken on as a result of the personal nature of the lyrics.
He‘s been explaining in more detail about the album, the seeds of which were sown many years ago: “The completion of this 'new' album marks the final stage of a journey as well as some kind of rebirth for DE ARMA and for me personally. To me, its identity has grown stronger over time and now the vision leading to it has fully materialised. 'Strayed in Shadows' reflects the feeling of being lost in oneself, to be lost in or without a profound relationship, and the hesitant longing for a future without change. While the album is based upon true events and personal experiences, I hope that listeners will find their own connections and interpretations.”
So as you’ve guessed, you probably won’t be dancing around the garden with your family thanks to this release, because it is cloaked not only in Nordic melancholy, but in Nordic gothic melancholy, which is really at a whole different level altogether. But there’s some impressive highlights, notably in the sprawling opener ‘Pain of the Past’, 7 minutes of powerful intense guitars, a chorus that rattles long at pace and vocals that despite the obviously low gothic pitch, are easy to understand and comprehend.
I like the bleak gothic guitar sound in ‘City of Vultures’ that reminds me of so many bands that I used to listen to in my youth, whilst in ‘Illusions of Love’ and ‘Days of Judgement’ we’re treated to the guest vocals of Maria Oja, who takes the tracks away in a different direction. But my other favourite track is ‘Funeral in my Brain’, which keeps things interesting with both dynamic and pace changes (an effective technique used throughout the album), and descriptive personal lyrics that seem to sum up the purpose behind the album, as described by Pettersson.
Of course there’s a fairly big caveat here, in that I realise that the genre probably won’t be to everyone’s liking, and it is undoubtedly dark and without massive variation. And no matter what the style of music is, I still like bigger tunes, something I always thought that bands like Sisters of Mercy pulled that off pretty effectively.
But in many ways DE ARMA’s music and lyrics are totally relatable, and actually I had the most enjoyment listening with a decent pair of headphones out on a run, when I could shut out the world and get lost in the music and words completely. It‘s also grown on me to the extent that I really want keep listening. So to that end ‘Strayed in Shadows’ definitely does hit the mark, and I’m pleased to belatedly cover it.
I‘ve just read that DE ARMA have signed a deal to release more music with Swedish label Silent Future Recordings and a new EP is also imminent. All good news.