Lacrimas Profundere has been one of my go-to sources of sadboi goth rock for a very long time. From their doom death Peaceville Three inspired days in the early aughts, to their recent string of moody goth rockers, they had a real knack for delivering the exact dose of gloomy medicine I crave while keeping things intense enough to still be metal. It wasn’t until 2016s Hope is Here outing that the wheels came off their gravy train with an album littered with uninspiring ballads and listless soft rock. I truly wanted to like it, but was unable to connect with the material. Apparently the band itself was in turmoil around that time, as founding guitarist Olly Schmid wanted to steer back toward their original doom death style. This led to internal friction with several members leaving, including talented frontman Rob Vitacca. Olly decided to rebuild the band from scratch, retaining only drummer Dominik Scholz, while bringing in the unknown Julian Larre to handle vocals. Bleeding the Stars finds this stripped down ensemble revisiting aspects of the band’s entire catalog while adding new elements into the core sound. The result is an unexpected blockbuster of a mood drenched metal album. It still sounds like the Lacrimas Profundere I always loved, but with shiny new fenders and spinning rims.
Opener “I Knew and Will Forever Know” is the ideal reintroduction to the band, treading familiar goth-metal waters and giving Mr. Larre a chance to show his impressive range and abilities. There’s a very strong Katatonia vibe in the discordant, jangled riffs, the band sounds energized and Larre shows he has the goods to help chart a new course. “The Kingdom Solicitude” is the album’s big shocker, merging a laid back, delicate goth rock sensibility with a big helping of melodeath that recalls the glory days of Before the Dawn, resulting in a powerful, emotional number that captures the ideal goth aesthetic as well as the rich melancholy of Finnish melodeath. It’s a beautiful song well outside the band’s expected wheelhouse and I salute them for that. They cleave closer to their traditional approach on slick, addicting goth rockers like “Mother of Doom” and “Father of Fate,” but show a darker, more disturbed side on “Like Screams in Empty Halls,” which almost sounds like subdued Behemoth mixed with vintage goth vocals. It’s a very catchy song and the palpably disturbed, creepy tension running through it makes things all the more gripping. The addition of harsh vocals at key moments is icing on the grave cake and this one just won’t vacate the room inside my head.
Other top shelf cuts include the classic goth rock of “The Reaper” and the more urgent and rocking “After All Those Infinities” which sounds like classic Lacrimas through and through. The album closes out with the haunting, somber rock of “A Sleeping Throne” and as its final morose notes fade away, you’re left with a satisfyingly glum feeling in your heart and the strong urge to hit replay. There isn’t a bad tune or a hint of filler to be found and this is a surprisingly diverse collection of songs. It’s a short, tight album at 39 minutes and all the songs are kept in the 3-4 minute range. This kind of restraint is becoming a lost art form and it really helps create a concise, powerful listening experience here.
I was a big fan of Rob Vitacca’s vocals and was sad to hear he was out of the band. He had the prototype goth rock voice and a solid range. Upon hearing Julian Larre I knew the band was in good hands and he’s an improvement in nearly every way. This young man has a big set of pipes and can channel the goth spirits with the best of them while also cutting loose with some highly convincing death vocals and emo-heavy screams that border on black metal rasps. The was a real find and his presence seems to have re-energized every aspect of the band’s sound. Olly Schmid is a veteran of the goth metal scene and his playing is perfectly tailored to the tone of each song and often quite beautiful. Though small in number these days, the band has never sounded better.
Bleeding the Stars is the comeback album I hoped for from Lacrimas Profundere and then some. I hesitate to call it their best release, but it’s right there with the very best of their output. If you’re a fan of moody goth metal like The Eternal, this should definitely hit home. I’m thrilled to see this turnaround and hope it’s the beginning of a great second and/or third act for these unstoppable Germans. Hear em’ and weep!