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None too heavy - 60%

Vim_Fuego, August 8th, 2004

It's taken me a long, long time to go anywhere near this band, because of the "M" word — "melodic".

Melodic death metal, as this band are often called, conjures up images of puffy–sleeved, white–frilly–shirt wearing musicians who looked like they belonged with a symphony orchestra, and music comparable to latter day Helloween. Boy, was I wrong! The "melodic" thing has been over emphasised in much that has been said about this band. This is brutal — it's still death fucking metal! Yes, there's an element of melody, but it's really an inappropriate word to be applied to this. Unfortunately, there is no word in the English language more appropriate.

So what's on offer here? The classic Scandinavian dual guitar attack. It's less oppressively crushing than the likes of Entombed or Dismember in their heyday, but is more technical than the earlier death metal leaders. The death grunt is more of a deep breathy rasp, and is able to carry melody (there's that word again…) more effectively than more guttural styles. Double kick drums underscore most songs, in classic death style.

While mostly mid–paced metal, blast beats are used sparingly, but effectively, like in the closing seconds of "Scythe, Rage and Roses". There are gentler moments too, like the melancholic acoustic guitar and female vocal introduction to "Insanity's Crescendo". There's also the majestic closing title track, which builds layer upon layer on a seemingly simple acoustic riff. This is the type of album where the listener will hear new things with each subsequent listen — a tasty riff here, an unheard bass run there, an imaginative drum fill.

Tacked on the end of this version of this album are three bonus tracks. "Razorfever" is a strap–your–balls–down straight–ahead headbanger. "Shadowlit Facade" is a more standard track, with a nice Maiden–esque riff. The final track is a cover of Kreator's ultra–brutal "Bringer of Torture", cleaned up a little, but still given the foot to the floor treatment.