Released: 2010, Ethereal Sound Works
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Portugal’s Painted Black released their debut COLD COMFORT last year, but the album’s getting some new life through North American distribution channels. And rightfully so, because it’d be a shame if more people didn’t get to hear this gem. The band combines the melodic sensibility of Paradise Lost, the theatrical drama of My Dying Bride, the emotive anger of Swallow the Sun, and a pinch of black metal inspiration for a massive dose of wrist slitting goth metal melancholy. The sextet proudly takes their cues from these bands, and while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, Painted Black takes that inspiration and uses it to create some unique and original tunes.
COLD COMFORT is a dark chameleon of an album. Painted Black seamlessly weaves throughout raging riffs, melodic harmonies, and somber introspection throughout the album’s 8 tracks. And as many of the tracks breach the 7-minute mark, this diversity is often explored within each tune itself. Take the album opener, “Via Dolorosa,” which plunges head first into Dimmu Borgir flavored buzzsaws and quickly takes a sharp left turn into subtle and reflective territory with a heartfelt sweeping guitar interlude, finally bridging back into a sharp and crunchy conclusion. And that’s just the first track.
Painted Black displays a penchant for crafting lengthy, epic-scale tracks that succeed at keeping your attention. “The End of Tides” is musical sorrow and bitter hostility at the same time, while the monumental album closer “Inevitability” sounds like a powerful confession to a love that’s now lost to the grave. And yes the inevitability they’re talking about is death, because there’s nothing like finishing on a high note, right? But the band really hits their stride with the more concise tunes “ShadowBound” and “Winter.” The band’s approach reminded me of when PL was writing “singles” like “The Last Time.” Heavy, yes, but wicked catchy at the same time.
The band sounds like they know their stuff. It’s never pretentious or overblown, but there’s always plenty of musical layers to the songs and different things you’ll hear along the way. But vocalist Daniel Lucas is the star of the show here. The guy can do some convincing death growls for sure, but he’s got a mellow mid-range clean delivery that sits somewhere between Aaron Stainthorpe and Geoff Tate. Totally soothing but unsettling at the same time, it’s great stuff.
So consider COLD COMFORT a no brainer, especially if you’ve ever had a fondness for this genre. I’d never heard of Painted Black prior to the promo finding its way to my inbox, but I’m certainly glad that it did. This is a talented band and an album worth your time and cash. COLD COMFORT is available now through Ethereal Sound Works and iTunes.