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One can really admire CENTINEX for being so productive and hard working band, if within only six years since their debut demo they already finished the third album! Of course it's damn difficult to maintain the quality with quantity, but with CENTINEX there's nothing to worry about. Especially that nowadays “Reflections” is being often mentioned as the best CENTINEX album. Of course each maniac may – and should – have his own opinion, but personally I prefer the stunning old school rage of “Subconscious Lobotomy” and dark atmosphere of “Malleus Maleficarum” than this third full length. And maybe – on this third CD - CENTINEX didn’t change much and didn’t start to play metalcore or whatever and that’s good… But I just feel that as overall I preferred the earlier albums and that they had stronger material. Anyway, “Reflections” still stands as a strong death / black metal release.
The problem is that I think it would probably be better if it wasn’t for the rather uninspiring ABYSS Studio production – this album just sounds strange, hasn’t got that vibe and rawness I like in death metal ferocity. Guitars sound weird; I cannot even describe it, but they especially lack some aggression and feel little too polished. CENTINEX again used the drum machine, but that doesn’t disturb much as its sound is OK. But together all these contribute into something that is taking some potential off the songs.
From the other hand CENTINEX again came up with some good and memorable tunes, blending the death / black metal aggression and atmosphere with many catchy melodies. What’s more, they also added few keyboard-played backgrounds, what gave quite an interesting mood and more epic feeling in some parts of the album, in “Carnal Lust” for instance. It intrigues me how close CENTINEX is to black metal here. Songs like “Seven Prophecies”, “Before the Dawn” and “Darkside” are its best examples, dangerously getting close to the black metal atmosphere and its hellish speeding, melding the melody and aggression almost like NECROPHOBIC and DARK FUNERAL – with the exception that CENTINEX is far more melodic and slower. Oh yeah, majority of the riffs on “Reflections” is strongly melodic (listen to “Into the Funeral Domain” for instance), but it goes both as an advantage and disadvantage for CENTINEX – from one hand the Swedish melodies add to the atmosphere, from the other hand I really feel like the album lacks in brutality so frequently. Unlike on “Malleus Maleficarum” it just doesn’t seem so furious and uncompromising.
So, to resume it’s still more that just decent album, CENTINEX again recorded some great songs, but as the album is uneven, there are also some less fine tunes, like the boring "In Pain" track. So, no, I wouldn't agree with calling it the best CENTINEX effort, but that doesn't mean I cannot enjoy it.
Here we come to the third album of one of the most overlooked bands in death metal, Centinex. Well, even the name of the label that produced this album doesn’t sound that well or promising for a band that was trying to come out from the mud of the underground but Reflection is still a very good effort, without being that special or original. We all know the Centinex formula and even this album is not that far in style. Get ready for more classic death metal because there’s nothing more here.
We begin with the uncontrollable fury of the opener, “Carnal Lust”. The up tempo is almost always present and the guitars are constantly on a dark tremolo as the vocals are growled but not that excessively. They remind me the Malevolent Creation ones in more than one occasion, as the music has few death/thrash moments too. The fast bass drums sections are well-done and really heavy even if the production made them sound a bit too mechanical or artificial and unclean. The more mid-paced moments come with few stop and go and the keyboards that announce a more melodic solo. The following “Seven Prophecies” is utterly dark and apocalyptic with the slow progression of the instruments, the base of the keyboards and the tremolo on the guitars. The up tempo sections are reminiscent of the black metal of those years as well!
The first blast beats come with the frantic black/death assault of “Before the Dawn” and the sound of the bells. “The Dimension Beyond” features a fucking great tempo for the fast parts, full of incredibly dynamic sections, doom breaks and loads of riffs. They are quite complex and they come across each other in a superb way to be also catchy and brutal at the same time. “My Demon Within” is more black metal for the tremolo work on the guitars and the blast beats but the up tempo sections always conserve that hint of death/thrash influences. Here we go again with nasty bass drums restarts out from nowhere as the intensity is just unbelievable. Don’t be fooled by the more melodic intro to “In Pain”, because the rest is simply brutal and the keyboards/melodic breaks by the middle are just awesome!
“Undivined” follows the same infernal style, always on the borderline between the death and the black that lies on the guitars and the general atmosphere they create. The obscure mid-tempo sections and the clean, whispered vocals increase the black sensation. “Darkside” is always on fast paces but the riffs are not that common and few patterns are quite original to give a hint of variety among all those violent riffs as we arrive to the final “Into The Funeral Domain”. The darkness reaches great levels even if the structures are not altered, but we can also find the melodic section when we come to the end, with the guitars playing clearly and slowly.
Well, all things considered, this is not a hyper various album, but it’s surely better than Malleus Maleficarum. The band has acquired more power and also the production is far more compact and powerful. It’s a shame that albums like this one are so overlooked because they are able to transmit always great sensations, especially when you are searching for speed and brutality.
Perhaps one of the most burdensome expectations that befall a band in the underground Metal community is the need for it to "reinvent the wheel" if it is to please the most cynical of listeners. But, in the past more than a handful of bands have achieved varying levels of success by refining the intrinsic elements of already existent paradigms. Of course there have been plenty more that have fallen by the wayside and left no other impression than that of a horrendous clone band. Rather than slot into the dispensable gloom of the latter, the subject of this review, a Swedish band called Centinex, fit comfortably within that of the former.
"Reflections", their third release shows little signs of following the notorious "Gothenburg" stylings of the time, instead working as a proficient Death Metal album.
The album derives the main crux of its compositions from free-flowing tremolo bursts, which cascade in and out of one another to create a clever divergence of ideas in a logical form. Although these riffs are of a basic formula, they are used extremely well to convey a variety of different themes throughout the album. The music is typical of the melodic Swedish Death Metal bands of the earlier years, with the best description pertaining to a less complex and chaotic version of At The Gates. The structures are coherent, precise and compact. Whilst some of the segments are more impactive or hard hitting as was idiosyncratic of earlier the Swedish sound, for the most the band relies on subtle melodies to develop the plot of each song.
The general mood, while retaining some chaos, is more reserved than is typical for Death Metal. There is definitely an air of emotion that is magnified more than is custom, with a wide variety moods from hopeful, sometimes sentimental and reminiscent of the glories and battles of mankind's days gone by, to emitting signs of sadness for the decadent present situation. There are also some slower doomy melodies thrown in at several intervals. The crisp, vibrant and pure Sunlight Studios production serves as an adequate vehicle of expression without stooping to a processed sound. The underlying themes are subtly evolved as the song progresses with the steady flow of a Scandinavian river as it winds through the lush countryside. The songs are memorable, choosing to recognise the preciousness of life and have a glowing charm that doesn't always get radiated by this medium. There are also some brief charismatic pentatonic flourishes featured in the some songs, which don't divert the focus of the songs to utter meaninglessness. Oddly enough, even the “rock” approach of these leads doesn’t seem at all alienated from the themes presented.
Without bringing anything original in terms of technique and composition to the table, Centinex have succeeded in creating an album that is full of life and refreshing in its feel. They have shone light onto a moribund Swedish scene that many purists may have thought to be dead at the time.