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ASRAI 'Touch In The Dark' Transmission Records (2004)

Although this Dutch Gothic Metal band have been in existence for over 15 years, this is, in fact, only their second full length release and their first for Transmission Records, which is building a great reputation for itself on the back of artists in a similar style, such as After Forever and Epica.

The songs are much shorter and less epic sounding than those of their labelmates, clocking in at around five minutes or less in length, while the samples that the band use to fill out their sound are more frequently Industrial/Electro in style. These aspects mean that Asrai's style of Gothic metal broadly places them in the same ballpark as bands such as Flowing Tears and Lacuna Coil yet at the same time there is a real punch and heaviness in the bass and guitar department which matches the power delivered by Margariet Mol's vocals. No soaring soprano sounds here, just a straight ahead female rock voice, as you'd get with a Doro or Ann Wilson - and very good it is too.

While the disk itself opens with ‘In Front of Me', the following tracks soon blow away the memory of that indifferent start and tracks 3 through to 6 are all excellent, particularly ‘Restless' and ‘Tower' where Margriet's vocals really shine. ‘Dream' has a chunky pounding riff and Margriet's vocals once again grab the attention on ‘Child' and ‘Garden', before the more stereotypical Gothic Metal of ‘Shadows', featuring lots of great industrial samples, closes out the disk.

As for the other musicians, Margriet's sister, Karin, is equally impressive behind the drumkit while Mannon plays keyboards and violin. The 5 piece is rounded off by two guys, Rik on Guitar and Martin on Bass, who both add plenty of chunk to the band's sound. The mix, performed by Sacha Paeth is really well executed, giving the disk good dynamics and allowing each instrument to be heard crisply.

A quick look at the photo of the band on their website reveal that their image is as Gothic as the music on this CD. Overall, a very good disk, which should appeal to old school Goths as well as fans of Lacuna Coil.

Band website


Review by Charlie Farrell

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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