Reviewed: July 1999
Released: 1998, Wicked World
Yes this CD is a 1998 release but for us here in North America this is a recent 1999 release. Since this a basically new band to most here’s a two minute history lesson on them. Gandalf was founded in Helsinki, Finland by drummer Nalle “-sterman in 1993. Later that year they recorded their debut demo “Will Life Ever End?”. Then with a few line-up changes Gandalf recorded their second demo in December 1994 (Demo 2 ’94). In 1995 came the third demo entitled “The Cradle.” A promo demo entitled “Snakebite” was recorded for the labels in August 1996. Next came the first UNOFFICIAL album, named “Live to Suffer” in 1997 which according to the band didn’t work for or represent them so they actually made the decision to not release or promote the album at all! In 1998 came their first official full length CD “Deadly Fairytales” which has resulted in the beginning of Gandalf’s recognition internationally.
If you’re into bands like In Flames, Carcass and Arch Enemy you can add Gandalf to the list of bands that you need to check out. So is this the new wave of Swedish death metal brought to you from Finland? Well on the surface and on initial listening – yes it is. The name Gandalf by the way should be familiar to anyone who’s read the “Lord of The Rings” trilogy. The band refer to their brand of music as “melodic death groove” which is a fitting title. The tempo on “Deadly Fairytales” is not as break-neck or as intense as much of the Arch Enemy’s material but there are exceptions such as the brutal “Dark Memories” and “Stronger Than Hell.” The opening track, “End of Line,” sounds like it could of come from BlackStar Rising’s debut CD or from the last Carcass CD “Swan Song.” Track two, “Marionette” is also another one of the CD’s stronger moments (not that anything on the CD is weak mind you!!) One thing missing from some of the songs on the CD is lead guitar. This is really my only criticism of Gandalf. There is a great solo on “Forlorn” but up to then there is not much in the way of leads. There are however many harmonies and melodic guitar parts, but not all out soloing. I found that weird as the music is somewhat complex and when they do play leads it’s very tasteful and executed excellently.
While Gandalf has the tools to make this a 5/5 they need a little more musical maturity. With that and a continued 100% non-diluted metal sound these guys will really begin to steal some of the thunder from their contemporaries….look out!
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