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Highly Enjoyable Gothic Metal - 84%

MaDTransilvanian, May 19th, 2009

Recently I was able to find an original digipack version of this, Crematory’s self-titled fourth album. When I bought it I was expecting the good, standard gothic metal that Crematory has a habit of recording. Now that I’ve been able to let this sink in, I must say I’m surprised on a few levels as to this album.

First of all, the music here is somewhat slower than the usual Crematory stuff, such as the Believe album, making the music less catchy, at least upon first listen, and harder to digest than some of their later albums. This, coupled with the fact that Crematory is the band’s first ever album with lyrics sung entirely in the band’s native German, limits the music’s accessibility, which is in no way a bad thing although it does prevent me and my existent but limited knowledge of German from understanding the subtleties of the lyrics. Some of the songs are still on par with the band’s usual catchy gothic tunes, including Flieg Mit Mir, Ist Es Wahr and Ewigkeit.

This album’s position early in the band’s discography is evident by their relative lack of maturity in the songwriting department. That’s not necessarily to say that the songs are simplistic, far from it, but instead that many of the melodies which make this worthy of the gothic metal title are repetitive and simplistic, not to mention at times even childish and reminiscent of old video games. This is prevalent in the intros of several songs as well as in the closing instrumental track, Sehnsucht.

Fortunately for the album, from an overall point of view it’s quite enjoyable and riddled with hooks with which to remember many of the better tracks. The aforementioned Flieg Mit Mir features a chorus backed with keyboards, resulting in one of the best gothic metal tracks the band has recorded, right up there with classics such as Tears of Time and Unspoken. The keyboard melodies, when they succeed in avoiding the pitfalls of excessive repetition and general fruitiness, create an enticing atmosphere which ends up making this album quite an enjoyable one. One such example is the instrumental track, Trugbilder, which is entirely dominated by keyboards yet is composed in such a way as to make into the perfect bridge between the first and second halves of the album.

Vocalist Felix’s work alternates between light death growls and straight-up clean vocals, more often the former. His vocals are definitely a quality for this album, fitting the music almost perfectly and adding a good dose of contrast between both the clean vocals and the growls as well as between the more death metal elements and the melodic gothic parts of the album. Another one of the band’s advantages is that their line-up has remained consistent over the years as, with the exception of a couple of bassists and guitar player Lothar Först, there has been very little coming and going in this outfit, helping them to create and maintain a consistent signature sound through the years.

The German album, as Crematory is sometimes called in light of the use of said language in the lyrical department, proves that Crematory is a talented gothic metal band, releasing quality albums one after another. It might not be as good as other albums such as Believe but is nevertheless a solid effort worth acquiring by all who like gothic metal done right.