Plenty of gothic metal bands today feature male and female vocalists. But what makes Germany's Lacrimosa so impressive is that both singers have clean voices. Tilo Wolff's elegant masculinity balances brilliantly with Anne Nurmi's radiant sensuality, and together they practically invented the genre back in 1991. Fassade, the veteran quintet's seventh album, is indeed captivating, but it might be more enlightening if I could understand the damn thing. Sung completely in German (except for the evocative "Senses"), these songs reportedly conquer such topics as the human psyche and religion (at least according to www.lacrimosa.com).
The music -- always atmospheric yet breezy in some passages, quite turbulent in others -- spills effortlessly into such other genres as opera, classical and even jazz. The Rosenberg Ensemble Choir, the Spielmann-Schnyder Philharmonie and the German Filmorchestera Babelsberg all make invaluable contributions to Fassade, enhancing its depth and expanding its aural boundaries. Guitarist and bassist Jay P and drummers AC and Manne Uhlig provide what could almost be termed background music to Wolff's and Nurmi's voices, keyboards and programming, and their subtle approach works magically -- drawing attention to the heart of this beautifully gloomy machine.
Some melodies get lost in a sea of emotions, causing monotony to set in before the 53 minutes of Fassade expire. But for a good portion of this record, it's clear why Wolff and Nurmi remain the king and queen of gothic metal.