Released: 2015, Mascot Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If nothing else, the debut album from English newbies Counting Days is LOUD! Resoundingly so. Produced by Sweden's Fredrik Nordström, who has a quite history of this sort of thing through his work on some of the mightier works by Arch Enemy, In Flames, The Haunted, Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, At The Gates and Septicflesh, Liberated Sounds is one of the year's most unrelentingly bombastic albums. Listening with headphones is recipe for bleeding ears.
But all that volume really doesn't mean diddly if the the music isn't worth accepting the aural abuse in the first place. And with Liberated Sounds, that is something of a mixed proposition.
On its more straight up metal moments – like the bruising opener “Burned By Faith,” the old In Flames-like, violin-tinged “Die Alone” or the stirring melodic death metal of “Days Go By” and “Fire From The Sky” - the brash production makes already thunderous tracks utterly immense. The band's “Swedeath” influences – At The Gates, being an obvious one, frontman Tomas Lindberg even guests on the bracing “Sands of Time” - are more pronounced and resonant here as the volume leaves just enough room for the melodic undercurrent to peek through.
However, when things take on more of a metalcore hue, the grooves and breakdowns can seem a bit oppressive, even ham-fisted, as on the thudding title track. This is especially true when the scream-and-shriek vocal tradeoffs of frontman Thom Debaere and bassist Alex Dench are factored in, as on “Beaten & Scarred” or “Life & Death” - as it all becomes a cacophony.
When all is screamed and done, though, there's more metal than 'core here and Liberated Sounds proves itself to be a muscular, effective debut from a band that's not even two years old. They wield the heaviness and intent of a far more veteran act, and once their sound truly coalesces Counting Days could be a genuinely dangerous band that will have no trouble making themselves heard.