Ethereal Dreams - A Gothic Christmas

by Dark Christmas




Originally released - November 27, 2014

Mastering: James Plotkin
Artwork: Eben Plekkenpol
Project Coordinator: David "Slaya" Smith

A review of, Ethereal Dreams: A Gothic Christmas. By David "Slayer" Smith, project coordinator.

Adam London - Angels-Hope In Darkness
I desired a delicate yet bold piano piece to open the album. I believe Adam London accomplished this brilliantly with his unique take on, "Angels We Have Heard On High". Portions of the melody are borrowed from the traditional version with additional elements that Adam came up with himself. I had the idea of some sort of female choral vocals to appear in the song so it was more than a mere instrumental, also giving it an ethereal sound, tying it directly to the theme of the album. I laid out the basic ideas and he did the rest. Adam chose not to go with the usual song title and instead naming it, "Angels-Hope In Darkness" which I find to be very fitting for this kind of Christmas album.

ACCOLADE - Walking In The Air
I was looking for a band with female fronted vocals and ACCOLADE was the band that fit the bill. ACCOLADE chose to do a cover of, "Walking In The Air" from the 1982 animated film of Raymond Briggs' 1978 children's book, The Snowman. The music and lyrics were written and composed by Howard Blake. A beautiful combination of ethereal, neo-classical, ambient, and darkwave are to be found in this graceful Gothic interpretation. Stefanie Reneé, the band's vocalist gives a superior vocal performance, while Aaron Goldstein provides superb musical arrangements. The only song on the album to feature female vocals and it is an absolute beauty!

Leper - Away In A Manger
For the album's third track "Away In A Manger", Leper delivers a delightful depiction of the beloved Christmas Carol. Very light yet very gloomy. Skot imparts his usual dark vocal tones with the instrumentation being light but also luminous. No electric guitars are to be found, but we are instead given a sound that is comprised of acoustic guitars and soft percussion that is both vibrant and warm. Leper also charms us with a gorgeous guitar section in the middle of the song that is sure to leave a sweet, sweet sound in your ears as you unwind for the night. Leper fascinates once again on this Christmas gem.

BATZZ in the belfry - Still, Still, Still
"Still, Still, Still", an Austrian Carol, is rendered beautifully by old-school Gothic Rock masters, BATZZ in the belfry. A band mostly comprised of Nelson, who plays nearly all of the instruments for the band. He also does the drum programming, and provides all of the vocals. I have not heard many versions of this carol as it is less known in the USA. I very much adore this rendition as it administers a warm and pleasant sound, that harmonizes exceptionally well with Nelson's dark baritone vocals. This song has a very nice pacing to it and is so enjoyable, it is over before you know it. While not as dark as many songs in the genre, it is a holiday treasure that will entice you, leaving you craving for more. This is the only song on this album not recorded specifically for this project, as it originally appeared on BATZZ in the belfry's second full length album, Glow In The Dark. Many thanks to Nelson for allowing us to use the track!

Atlantica Vox - The Greatest Gift
Up next is an original Christmas Carol from Atlantica Vox. Written completely by Kyle Fiske, this song is both satisfying and captivating. The music is quite hypnotic and brings a medieval-style Gothic sound to the album. Kyle's vocals are not the typical Gothic style, but are a very pleasing and comfortable listen. They are just dim enough to add a dark touch to the song, but not too dark to the point where it becomes tedious and tiresome. While his vocal style may be very different from what many would expect from a Gothic album, in no way does it take anything away from the authenticity of this spectacular new carol! I find this song to be very refreshing and is a song I will listen to again and again.

Anemia - Silent Night
This song has an interesting story behind it as it came into the project a bit later than the others. Anemia, which is made up of Ricky Puckett and Skot Shaw of Leper, is absent of Ricky's gritty vocals in this recording of Silent Night. Due to circumstances that are mysteriously unknown, Ricky was unable to participate. Skot performs some faint vocal breaths in the background alongside some female choral-like voices from a keyboard. The vocals do not take the forefront and blend admirably with the music. Anemia produces a dark sound with slow driven guitar riffs, murky organs, and a variance of percussion that add up to an enthralling experience. This particular take on, "Silent Night" is not your usual cover of the classic carol. Perhaps you won't be immediately attached, but may very well grow on you over time as it did me.

Epic Church - Adeste Fideles
A brief instrumental closes the short album on a high note with Epic Church's majestic, "Adeste Fideles", which is Latin for, "O Come All Ye Faithful". This piece begins with a beautiful piano melody as the only form of instrumentation. Midway through, a multitude of turbulent sounds kick in with heavy percussion, and electrifying synths. Short but sweet, I am very happy with how the song turned out. Nothing over-the-top, but splendid in it's simplicity!

I hope you all enjoy this album as much as I do. I know it is brief, but the best dreams are often short lived. The good news is that we can re-live these moments again and again. Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight! PS - Sweet dreams!


released November 27, 2014



all rights reserved
Track Name: Walking In The Air (ACCOLADE)
Walking In The Air (from 'The Snowman' 1982)

We're walking in the air
We're floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly

I'm holding very tight
I'm riding in the midnight blue
I'm finding I can fly so high above with you

All across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills, the forests and the streams

Children gaze open mouthed
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes their eyes

We're surfing in the air
We're swimming in the frozen sky
We're drifting over icy mountains floating by

Suddenly swooping low
On an ocean deep
Rousing up a mighty monster from his sleep

We're walking in the air
We're dancing in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly
Track Name: Away In A Manger (Leper)
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky.
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me for ever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.
Track Name: Still, Still, Still (BATZZ in the belfry)
Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow
For all is hushed
The world is sleeping
Holy Star its vigil keeping
Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow

Sleep, sleep, sleep
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth
The night is peaceful all around you
Close your eyes
Let sleep surround you
Sleep, sleep, sleep
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth

Dream, dream, dream
Of the joyous day to come
While guardian angels without number
Watch you as you sweetly slumber
Dream, dream, dream
Of the joyous day to come
Track Name: The Greatest Gift (Atlantica Vox)
The Greatest Gift

Verse One:
Told in a vision that she was with child
Kind, loyal Joseph stood by Mary’s side
To Bethlehem from Galilee
They traveled that winding road faithfully

Verse Two:
Three traveled in from far Eastern lands
Wise men with gifts for the Son of Man
Frankincense, Myrrh and shining gold
To witness the truth of glory foretold

(Chorus One)

Verse Three:
They came upon shepherds and lo did they find
On hay in a manger lay mother and child
King of all men while just a babe
He broke all the chains that would keep us slaves

Verse Four:
Now when you raise a glass with good cheer
Warm by the fire with your loved ones near
Remember those still cold in the night
And welcome them in with His candlelight

Chorus One:
Under a star, shining so bright
He was born on this winter’s night
In a town called Bethlehem
The Greatest Gift was given to men

Chorus Two:
A choir of angels singing on high
Brought tears of joy to the shepherds’ eyes
In a town called Bethlehem
The Greatest Gift was given to men