These innovative players of progressive metal, or progressive thrash, had always been a band whose sound changed and evolved from album to album. It was not until 2004’s PORTRAIT OF THE ABYSS WITHIN and 2006’s NEIGHBOURHELL that they released two consecutive albums that shared a similar sound motif. This was fine, though, because NEIGHBOURHELL served as a perfected extension of the sound developed on its predecessor. Unexpectedly, 2007 brings us BLACKENDAY, another album that shares a similar sonic landscape with the last two albums.
Aggressive, powerful songs, tempered by a strong focus on melodies populate the entire affair. Fans of fast riffs, interesting tempo changes and hook-laden choruses will enjoy this offering considerably. Once again, blending the genres of power metal, progressive metal, thrash, and whatever else they find to fit, Eldritch has crafted an album with a somewhat darker undertone than NEIGHBOURHELL.
The album opener, “Silent Flame,’” is a perfect blend of heaviness and catchiness, and it offers a good glimpse of what to expect throughout the rest of the ride. “The Blackened Day” is a song that begins with a cleaner guitar sound and a nice off beat drum track. Layers of distorted guitars then enter the equation, all while leading to a great, heavy chorus. This song also ends with one of the best guitar solos on the record. Composed of carefully chosen, razor sharp notes, this solo travels several different avenues throughout the last minute of the song, all while maintaining an interest in melody rather than speed. “Broken Road” is another highlight of the album, featuring a passionate guitar solo by Nick Van Dyk of REDEMPTION and a powerful guest vocal by Ray Alder in the bridge of the song. One of the most interesting songs on the album is “The Fire,” a blisteringly heavy cut. Starting with dark, almost death metal vocals, it builds to a pre-chorus of abrupt shouts followed by a classic Eldritch chorus. This song defies expectations several times with some of the most clever breakdowns and riffs.
The downside to the record is that it does not really blaze any new ground, and it has a few more forgettable tracks when compared to NEIGHBOURHELL, which really didn’t have any. Still, the album is another great example of how metal can be heavy and progressive without being self-indulgent. Most of the songs range in the three to five minute range again this time around. Fans of the last album can buy this record blindly, but other fans of interesting, unique, and catchy metal should give this a try as well. Hopefully, with their next recording, they will keep the good things that they have developed on the last few records and break out into a new direction like they had done for most of their career up to the last few years.
Band MySpace: www.myspace.com/neighbourhell
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