Black Symphonic Death and Roll… and a bunch of other pointless descriptors…
I lost my original review. Sorry. This was handed in last week, but it never entered the database. My ISP kicked just as I sent. So I had to rewrite this from the rough draft. While it’s annoying for me, it gave me a chance to sit on this and listen some more. My opinion hasn’t changed. It’s a damned fine record with a guitar tone I hate. It’s too bright. I like meaty, moist and massive guitars. It’s a quibble, though. This is black-based metal, with a hint of “symphony“, so having a bright, trebly guitar tone is certainly acceptable. But it nearly ruins the experience for me. Also, the vocals are so low as to be almost imperceptible. That doesn’t bug me as much as the guitar tone, but it’s distracting where it didn’t need to be.
The rest of the album’s aspects range from good to enthralling. You will find it somewhere between Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir, but with that essential edge both bands have found elusive lately. Riff and run guitaring combined with hammer and tong song work. You can hear all the instruments perfectly, from keys to bass. How many fucking bands can make that claim? Maybe it’s because the vocals are out of the way; maybe it’s that guitar tone I don’t like. But I think it has more to do with care and prudence by the engineer.
The star is more the composition than the band, though. These songs are INVOLVED. They dance across the metal landscape without getting their soles dirty. Rarely do I find myself thinking “OK, I fucking GET IT. Move on…”. You can have a chorus that smells similar to a power metal song, riffs straight from death and roll masters like Crown, and swirling calliopic passages that seem derived from the later Emperor style. You can even have some Japanese SciFi movie keyboarding! And somehow the craft keeps it from becoming trite. If they remixed this fucker, brought up the vox JUST A TAD (I still prefer my vox too quiet to too loud in the mix) and maybe add a bit of dampness to the guitars…fucking triple sixes. All musicians involved put in nearly flawless performances, playing with real fire and intensity that bleeds from the speakers.
I will bottom line this by saying that, even with its severe shortcomings in guitar and vocal engineering, this record lights the fires that produce the smoke of hell. Breathe deep, let it sear your lungs and flay your eyes. Revel in the pain. Buy this record, support this band and maybe the next record will address my pet peeves. Even if it doesn’t, though, this band has earned your attention. Reward them.