"Of Prisoners, wandering souls and cruel fears" is the 7th full-length studio album by Italian goth/ambient rock/metal act Canaan. The album was released through Eibon Records in June 2012. "Of Prisoners, wandering souls and cruel fears" is a two disc release. The first disc features 11 tracks with vocals in the band´s "usual" style while disc 2 features 11 ambient synth driven tracks.
The music on disc 1 of the album is dark and haunting. The atmosphere is bleak and depressing. A feeling that is further enhanced by song titles like "The Scream Painter", "The Solar Enemy" and "The Love Slasher". The band´s sound is pretty hard to nail, but dark synth driven and ambient goth rock/metal with both male and female singing is probably a valid description. We´re not talking "beauty and the beast" type vocals here though (read: Angelic female vocals meet growling male vocals). There are no extreme vocal styles on the album. The deep/low register sorrow filled male vocals and the emotional/melancholic sounding female vocals instead sing in unison most of the time and the vocals are definitely one of the greatest assets of the album. The pace in the music is mostly slow and almost doomy, and as such the album is pretty heavy and dark, but it´s not riff heavy by any means. Actually the distorted riffs that occassionaly occur in the music work more as backing/atmosphere enhancing than as actual memorable metal riffs. So it´s safe to say that "Of Prisoners, wandering souls and cruel fears" is an album where atmosphere is the main attraction and thankfully the band pull off creating dark and haunting atmosphere with conviction.
While the music on disc 2 is still dark and haunting, it´s quite different from the music on disc 1. We´re talking ambient synth pieces without vocals or "regular" rock instrumentation. While there is nothing wrong with the performance of the pieces my attention soon wanders and I´m having trouble listening to the full disc without just having it spin as background music. People more into ambient synth music might find this disc more enjoyable than I do, but personally I find the 11 tracks on disc 2 a bit redundant.
If it wasn´t for the quite frankly unnecessary disc 2, a couple of minor sound production issues and some less than poetic lyrics too (Read: Sometimes cringe worthy), I would probably have rated "Of Prisoners, wandering souls and cruel fears" with a 4 star (80%) rating. It´s an album with an original sound and Canaan are obviously a band with a vision and that´s always admirable. As it is though a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.