Left Hand Solution

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Fevered

Left Hand Solution - Fevered ©1997 Nuclear Blast
1. Thorns
2. Fevered
3. The Wounds Of Bitterness
4. Illusion
5. Angels With The Last Plagues
6. Scorns Of Time
7. The Futile Passion
8. Memories (of The Tragedienne)
9. The Bleeding
10. Scarred

Darkly romantic and somber as a broken heart, Left Hand Solution was originally one of those bands whose CDs I see in the store but never knew anything about. Finally I decided, "Oh, what the heck" and picked up their Fevered disc, figuring that for three bucks, how could I really go wrong? As it turns out, I got a real steal here, as Fevered is a wonderful and beautiful melodic doom album that lies in the harbor of sentimental despair and heartache.

Left Hand Solution is a four piece featuring a female vocalist, who, thankfully, does not attempt to be operatic or wail like a lot of female singers in dark metal. Instead, her soft and brooding voice fits the band's musical style perfectly. Mariana Holmberg's voice ranges from quiet sadness to occasional sultriness, all the while never straying from her area of strength to attempt anything she is incapable of adequately pulling off. Often a band's strength lies in knowing one's limitations and not violating that sacred space. The music is not necessarily anything unusual, but it is done with great efficiency. The songs are based around a good, solid heavy and morose guitar riffing style with very little frills being added, such as keyboards or wacked out solos. Rather, the band focuses precisely on making memorable songs that are moving. The opening track "Thorns" is precisely how a band should introduce themselves to the listener. The guitar is very melodic, the song structure is very snappy and the vocals are quite good. More thankfully, when the male background vocals harmonize, there is no generic growling to lower the band to the level of Theatre of Tragedy clones. Some of the standout tracks are the aforementioned "Thorns", the title track, the haunting "Memories (of the Tragedienne)" and "Scorns of Time".

Fevered is definitely an overlooked gem of a romantic doom album. With luck, you can personally rectifiy this situation by tracking down a copy and enjoying this fine album yourself.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Light Shines Black

Left Hand Solution - Light Shines Back ©2001 Massproduktion
1. Light Shines Black
2. Soiled Souls
3. Missionary Man
4. Lucid Dream Desire
5. The Crooked Smile
6. Raven Wings
7. Vision
8. Persistance of Memory
9. Heart Laid Bare
10. Orient Nights
11. A Road to Nowhere

Left Hand Solution was one of the more forgotten goth influenced doom metal bands of their era. Despite the fact that they featured a female singer and had some decent songwriting to back her up, their output was limited to three obscure releases that apparently caught the attention of no one. On one hand, it's refreshing to look back and see their album covers did not feature breasts in various stages of disrobing (the Napalm Records obsession for a few years there, which greatly reduced the musical credibility of that label) nor did the band go the route of having the "beauty and beast" male/female vocal dichotomy, which got overdone within minutes. On the other hand, Left Hand Solution never quite established a strong enough sound for themselves and disappeared from sight after this album's release in 2001.

Light Shines Black is actually a relatively decent effort. The band followed up on the sound from 1997's Fevered with a bit of a loosened attitude. In fact, when this band kicks it up a notch from the brooding doom type of approach, they are more interesting. Vocalist Mariana Holmberg still has a lower range and odd huskiness, sometimes drawn out too much to detrimental effect. Her overall range is strong so when she tries for higher notes it sounds good and a little less forced. In general, Light Shines Black has some pretty good songs and even a cover of the Eurythmics' "Missionary Man". The better moments happen to be when they step away from the doom metal background just a bit.

I'm not sure what happened to Left Hand Solution after this album's release as they've been silent ever since, but with no official word of a breakup. Perhaps they accidentally locked their gear in the tour van and haven't found a good locksmith. This album probably wouldn't have widespread appeal, but it might have some interest to doom/depressive metal types, particularly those who had little to no use for the cheesey "beauty and the beast" movement that was occurring during the same time period.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2011

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