Released: 2004, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Licensed from Cold Records, this recent Metal Blade act features members of Solar Dawn, Satariel, Setherial, and Unmoored…not a bad start. Musically speaking, it is a solid, albeit standard-issue, black/death album, with a handful of surprises midway through the disc.
Vocally, there is a nice sense of diversity, without being over-zealous—no trendy melodic crooning, no quacking noises, and no forced-sounding grunts. From blackened screeches to melodic-death snarls and dry-heaving death metal growls, vocalist Par Johansson, of Satariel fame, sounds like he means business, and that business appears to be quite sinister.
Riff-wise, this veers from traditional death metal riffing to more Swedish-flavored fare, although many of the leads and runs sound more Finnish that anything (i.e. Kalmah, Insomnium, etc.). Overall, from a stylistic standpoint, this favors more of a Dissection-styled black/death hybrid not really seen much since bands like Noctes and Sacramentum left the scene. A good reference point would be Prophanity (remember them?) or early Catamenia. There is some experimentation here—the stop-start breaks in “Pest Cometh” is not commonly heard in this style, at least not as well integrated as it is here. The chaotic fret-work on “Far Advance Closure” has almost a classic feel to it, like something Dark Angel might have pulled out of their hat. The most notable thing (guitar-wise) the band manages, however, is its anthemic leads and midsections—the afore-mentioned “Far Advance Closure,” as well as “Bearer Of The Torch” and “Dead Children, Black Rats”—all three of which could compete as the album’s highlight(s).
As a debut this is outstanding; as a genre release, it is a competent, though unsurprising, black/death opus from an extremely promising young band.