Today we’re embarking on a journey beyond the pearly gates white gates where we will be spinning some slots for some great music, going right into the dark and enchanting realm of gothic rock with the self-titled debut album by Casinos in Heaven. As someone who once reveled in the haunting melodies of gothic rock, as well as the symphonic and gothic metal sounds it often intertwines with, this genre has always held a special place in my heart. While my musical tastes may have branched out over the years, my passion for this style remains unwavering.
This band, Casinos in Heaven, had its inception back in 2018, tracing its roots to the creative mind of drummer Tiago Ramos. Adding their distinctive vocal prowess to the mix is Carla Cláudio. What’s more, if my memory serves me right, this album has been graced by the skilled hands of none other than Jacob Hansen in the production department. Now, for those of you familiar with the music world, you’d know that Jacob Hansen’s work is nothing short of legendary. In fact, his production credits have often found a cozy spot on our year-end “Best Of” lists, and for good reason.
As someone who has been eagerly awaiting a fresh dose of gothic rock, I can’t help but feel excited about what Casinos in Heaven has in store for us. Gothic rock has a unique ability to immerse you in its mysterious and emotive feel, and it’s a genre that I haven’t explored deeply in quite some time.
The album unfurls its dark seas with the opening track, “Haunted Dreams.” From the very outset, we’re met with the haunting allure of keys, setting the stage for what’s to come. In the first few seconds, the guitars crash in, hitting us with a powerful, metal-laden riff. It’s a captivating introduction, and even in these initial moments, I can’t help but be drawn into the music. As a longtime enthusiast of this genre, I can already sense that this is something I’m going to thoroughly enjoy.
Haunted Dreams is a song that tells the story of a broken relationship, where she is haunted by the memories of her ex-lover. The song explores the themes of betrayal, anger, and longing, as the narrator struggles to move on from the past. The song is divided into some great verses and breakdowns, each with different musical and lyrical elements.
The first verse introduces the situation, where the narrator has not seen or talked to their ex for a while, but still feels their presence in their dreams. The verse is accompanied by a synth melody that creates a dark and eerie atmosphere. The pre-chorus changes the mood of the song, as the synth melody is replaced by a softer guitar riff and a gentle vocal delivery.
It does a great job here and expresses her nostalgia for the good times they had with their ex, when they felt their warmth, their breath, and their sweet words. It ends with the line that really hits home on the impact of emphasizing the contrast between the past and the present.
The chorus is really great here where it’s as if she unleashes her anger and frustration at her ex. There is one great part of the song which is marked by a heavy guitar riff, a pounding drum beat, and a powerful vocal performance. The lines of “So stop haunting my dreams” greats repeated and you can really feel her desperate plea to their ex to leave them alone. It also reveals the reason for the breakup, as she accuses their ex of breaking them and tearing them apart with their fury.
The song reflects on how they used to dream together and fill pages with forever,(which is a great line) but then everything was ruined. The second verse is similar to the first verse in terms of musical and lyrical structure, but with some variations in the words and the melody. The second verse ends with the same line as the first verse, leading into the pre-chorus and the chorus again.
Later in the track we got to one of the most interesting parts of the song, where the music comes to a halt, she delivers a very impassioned vocal line. There is a moment of silence, where she seems to confront her ex directly, saying “I’m not next to you, I don’t talk to you, I give nothing to you, I’m not coming back to you”. It’s like a declaration of independence, where she asserts their decision to end the relationship and move on with their life. A great track, and a great opening to the album.
Chaos is a song that impresses with its piano-focused gothic style and its diverse and dynamic sound. The song starts with a soft piano melody that gives the impression of a gentle ballad, but the track soon changes direction and surprises with a more rock-oriented sound. The song is about a woman who is trying to escape from the chaos of her life, which is symbolized by the thunder, lightning, and other imagery. She is looking for someone to show her how to break the mold and take the leap into a new reality.
The song has a lot of emotional range, as she expresses her desperation, hope, and determination. The song also has a lot of variety, as it switches between different tempos, keys, and instruments. One of the highlights of the song is the piano-driven section that occurs around the three-minute mark, where she confronts her fears and declares her independence.
Another highlight is the guitar solo that follows, which adds some flair and intensity to the track. The song reminds me of the 80s, when another classic rocker, Meat Loaf, frequently brought in some goth aesthetics to his music. Chaos is a song that stands out for its beauty and its effectiveness.
In The Silence of Our Thoughts is one of my personal favorite tracks from the record. The song has a very great feel and vibe to it, that is hard to explain, but easy to enjoy. The track has a different feel and melody than the rest of the album, and it stands out for its use of synths and its folkish and retro sound. I mean, it does go very heavy on the electronics, but it also has a warm and organic touch to it. It reminds me of something you might hear from Fleetwood Mac, a band that also mixed folk and pop elements in their classic roc sounds.
Now, this is a very unique track and I absolutely love it. It seems to be about someone, or maybe even a couple of people who are trying to stay sane in the midst of the chaos and the battles of their lives. They share a moment of connection and meaning, and they whisper to the gods to keep them sane and strong.
They also cherish the memories that fill the pages of their lives, and they see their souls as their lifeline. The song expresses a lot of emotion and passion, and it also has a lot of musical beauty and variety as I mentioned. The track I would say is a great example of how Casinos in Heaven can create songs that are both catchy and meaningful.
The Edge of a Fighter is the closing track of the album, and it is a song that has a great atmosphere and a powerful message. The song opens up with the strumming of an acoustic guitar, creating a calm and soothing mood. The song then shifts into a more upbeat and energetic sound, as the vocals and the electric guitars take the lead. Throughout the entirety of the song, the vocals take center stage, and they do so with finesse and power. It’s a vocal-centric track, and the guitars, though present, don’t overwhelm but rather complement the vocals beautifully.
As the song progresses, the guitar work becomes a standout feature, particularly in the latter part. An exceptional guitar solo unfolds, showcasing the skill and adding depth to the arrangement. Beyond the solo, the guitars continue to harmonize with the vocal melody, creating a strikingly beautiful sound near the later half of the song. What truly stands out in this track is the seamless interplay between vocals and guitar, resulting in a perfect harmony.
Now, looking into the lyrics, my take on ‘The Edge of a Fighter’ is that it explores themes of determination and resilience in the face of challenges. It paints apicture of dark shadows that wander in dreams, embodying an endless fantasy. These shadows symbolize the hurdles we face in our pursuit of our desires and aspirations. Despite the waves of reality that attempt to deter us, the lyrics detail an unwavering commitment to reaching the envisioned destination.
The song speaks to the refusal to leave any stone unturned, showcasing an unyielding spirit. It’s a story of being locked down at times, yet standing resolute in the pursuit of one’s dreams. Each step taken brings the individual closer to the realization of their dreams, and destiny becomes a guiding force.
The imagery of following the candlelight through the night signifies perseverance in the face of uncertainty. The never-ending fight is a central theme, illustrating the determination to push the limits for a moment of glory. The lyrics describe the belief in destiny and the unwavering commitment to follow one’s path, even when the journey is filled with challenges, or your journy might even be at it’s end. ‘The Edge of a Fighter’ encapsulates the essence of fighting against fears and embracing the emotional journey. Really love this track, and it was a great way to close the record.
So, what I would say is that in this wild realm of gothic rock, where the echoes of melancholy and haunting melodies reside, there has now emerged a band that breathes new life into the genre for me. Casinos in Heaven, with this debut album, have not only embraced the essence of gothic rock but have infused it with intriguing elements of industrial and subtle pop influences. The result is nothing short of an album that is both darkly enchanting and refreshingly unique.
One of the standout features of this album is the amazing vocal work that graces every track. The lead vocalist, Carla Cláudio, possesses a mesmerizing ability to convey emotions that resonate deep. Her voice becomes an instrument of storytelling, and she brings out a lot of emotion through each lyric.
The guitar work within the album is another aspect that shines brilliantly. It weaves a lot of melodies and powerful riffs, and it’s all done so well. The guitar solos, in particular, add a layer of depth and emotion that elevates the songs along with those amazing vocals. What sets Casinos in Heaven apart is their judicious use of synths.
While not overpowering, these electronic elements subtly enhance the overall sound of the album I feel. They provide an otherworldly, retro quality that adds an interesting dimension to the music. The fusion of these synth elements with the traditional gothic rock sound creates a nice sound that’s well known, and refreshingly unique.
All in all, the band’s debut album transcends the boundaries of gothic rock, offering an experience that is rich in emotion and depth. With a fusion of gothic, industrial, and pop influences, coupled with remarkable vocals and skillful guitar work.