Reviewer Score: 8 out of 10




The duet of Thomas Rainer and Sonja Kraushofer has been well known to everyone who is not indifferent to the German dark scene (by "German" we mean the German scene itself, as well as Austrian, Swiss and Dutch ones) since the mid-90s. It was then, in 1996, when the band's debut album called "Lieder die wie Wunden bluten" ("Songs that bleed like wounds") came out. I got acquainted with the work of the Gothic/Darkwave formation (at the time) of L'ame Immortelle later. The first album by Thomas and Sonja that I listened to was a completely cult release called "Als die Liebe starb" which conquered me as well. It seems to me that on this album the band achieved the most eclectic sound that was balancing on the verge of Synth Gothic/Darkwave and Gothic Rock. And one might say that the "golden era" of L’ame Immortelle ended with it. And it is not because the band has become worse in subsequent years, it’s just that the vector of its development has changed, and I personally didn’t always like where Thomas led L’ame Immortelle. The next albums after "Als die Liebe starb" were "Gezeiten" and "Auf deinen Schwingen" were. And if "Gezeiten" generally continued the ideas of its predecessor, although its sound was already more guitar-oriented, then "Auf deinen Schwingen" stood out among the entire discography of the band. It seems to me that the transition from Trisol which is the primordial Gothic record label to BMG which is one of the major record labels played an important role in changing the sound of the band towards Pop Rock. By the way, Oomph! were releasing their records on that label at that time. As a result, these two bands had a tour together, as well as the joint single called "Brennende Liebe". But the collaboration with BMG did not last long and soon L'ame Immortelle returned under the wing of Trisol. And again the sound of the band started to come back to the familiar Synth-Gothic basis. Actually, in the late 00s, Thomas got the Industrial/EBM project called Nachtmahr, which over the years has become, perhaps, the main brainchild of Rainer. And his experiments within the framework of Nachtmahr started to have a very strong influence on L'ame Immortelle. As a result, the difference between some tracks of Nachtmahr and L'ame Immortelle could only be determined by the presence (or absence) of Sonja's vocals. Otherwise, L'ame Immortelle became a kind of a more melodic version of Nachtmahr. At the same time, of course, Thomas is a talented person and a true professional in his field. So I was still interested in the band's releases, but to this day I consider the period from 1997 to 2004 to be the "heyday" of the band.                                                                                                                                 


And not so long ago, at the beginning of the year, the 14th full-length album of the band called "In Tiefem Fall" saw the light. Of course, I couldn’t ignore this release, but I didn’t expect anything special from it because the "Angst" single didn’t inspire me with any particular thrill, and in principle I didn’t observe the prerequisites for any bright changes, but Thomas and Sonja managed to pleasantly surprise me this time.

The album is subtitled as "Die Reise in Seelische Untiefen mit L'ame Immortelle" ("Journey to the depths of the soul with L'ame Immortelle") what hints at some kind of conceptual work. But, I think, here the situation is about the same as with the style of the artwork of the record. This is the kind of art that everyone can interpret in their own way as the songs on the album are not lyrically united by any common story line and they are quite diverse stylistically which, of course, we will talk about later.

The album opens with a soft, delicate ballad called "Still" which reveals Sonja's unique and memorable vocals in their own way. Ascetic in terms of arrangement, the song highlights precisely the vocal line, the development of which is followed by the instrumental part, filling the canvas of the composition with new colors. The next track called "Der Fluch" also starts quite softly, but this softness is deceptive. Very soon we hear Thomas's distorted vocals with overdriven guitars and a more aggressive drum beat in the background. At the same time, the track remains very melodic, without moving to the field of Nachtmahr's pressure. This is one of the most successful tracks of the album that reminded me of L'ame Immortelle which seemed to have long gone. But the next track called "Catch My Fall" offers the listener natural Future Pop with clean vocals of Thomas as the only performer. A good song which, although it doesn’t quite fit into the concept of L’ame Immortelle, would look even more out of place in Nachtmahr, so I completely understand the decision to record this track within the framework of L’ame. Next comes the composition called "Angst", already well known to us thanks to the single and video. And here we hear quite a typical ballad by L’ame Immortelle. Slightly Synth-Gothic, a little Synth-Pop, it sounds corny and sterile nice. L'ame Immortelle always had such songs on their albums and it is quite logical that something similar should have appeared on this record.

In contrast to the pop arrangement "Angst" is perceived as minimalistic, nearly ambient. Of course, this is not some loud hit, but a very atmospheric and thoughtful track. Compositionally and in its mood it can be compared with "Still" which is the album opener. But ballads are, of course, good and beautiful, especially since L'ame Immortelle succeeds in making them more often, but the next track called "Asche" does not let the record lose its dynamics. Yes, even outside the context of the album, I would call this track a generic one, but here it is in its place, and because of this it sounds much more advantageous. Moreover, perhaps my favorite track on the album called "Dem Abgrund entgegen" follows it. It has such a great internal dramaturgy that a separate review can be written only about it. This is a cool work in itself: very musical, with interesting transitions, emotionally sharp, forcing you to empathize. Moreover, in order to feel all this, it is not even necessary to know what the song is about or understand the lyrics; the language of music is universal and "Dem Abgrund entgegen" confirms this. Next up is another dance Future Pop track called "Castaway", this time with Sonja's vocals. And here I have to say that if I have to choose between the clean vocals of Thomas and Sonja, I will give my preference to Sonya. She has amazing vocals, but the song leaves the feeling that this is not the original track, but its remixed version, though the remix is ​​good. Then the album, without deviating from its concept, continues to alternate more driving things with lyrical ones. Although, everything is quite relative, usually even driving songs by L'ame Immortelle are quite lyrical. Anyway, the track called "Said and Done" performed in the duet became, perhaps, the weakest one on the record for me. The same cannot be said about the final ballad called "Healer", which, by the way, was also released as an EP. This track seems very cinematic to me, and in general I see it as the perfect ending for this record.


Thomas pleasantly surprised me last year with the powerful release from Nachtmahr, and here is another success, at least in my eyes. Perhaps the lack of a tight tour schedule in recent years has affected a more scrupulous approach to new material, or maybe the stars just got up like that. But Thomas has released one of the best and most coherent L'ame Immortele albums of the last decade. As for the album ranking, I will rank it 8 out of 10, but this is a very strong 8, I would even say one with a plus.

Available now on:
  • Band
  • Album
    In Tiefem Fall
  • Released
    February 07, 2022
  • Country
  • Genres
    Synth Gothic / Gothic Rock
  • Label
    Trisol Music Group
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Serj Tabu
Music journalist, showrunner, the co-founder of our radio. And just a freakin' cool man, without whom nothing would have happened!

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