without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
The times of releasing “My Shadow…” were one of the most important in my personal metal history. The post black metal wave from Scandinavia started slowly to fade away… although it was then – in 1996 – when it delivered some historic albums from such bands like EMPEROR, IMMORTAL, ENSLAVED, HADES, GEHENNA, LIMBONIC ART or SATYRICON - albums I've loved. They've been at the pick of their creativity and from then on this genre started to go down slowly and slowly, often into commercialism and self parody… Death metal from the other hand at that time unfortunately didn’t have much to offer. Occasional quality eruptions from the likes of CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL, VADER, SINISTER, DISMEMBER or MONSTROSITY didn’t help seeing the genre dying. Where were the old cults like MORGOTH, UNLEASHED, GRAVE, GOREFEST, ENTOMBED, etc then? Most of them has either split up or changed their musical direction or delivered a shade of what used to be their best. Only few years later some bands like NILE and KRISIUN putted it back into the throne.
But let’s look at the Swedish scene of mid to late 90's. It – from the other hand – started to spawn dozens of new bands, which had a new thing in common – melody. AT THE GATES, IN FLAMES, DARK TRANQUILITY – from one side, and DISSECTION, CENTINEX and NECROPHOBIC on the other. Jon Nodtveidt’s band had an enormous influence on creating a new genre of satanic black / death metal. The followers appeared. I remember I was moaning on most of them at that time (and DECAMERON was one of the most unliked by me) and all because there were too many alike bands and I sometimes couldn't differ one from another. As for DECAMERON I just didn’t like their music so much then and together with ABLAZE MY SORROW they simply were one of the worst bands around in Sweden at that time - at least according to my opinion in 1996.
Weird things happen, time goes forward and years later “My Shadow…” gets another chance and is much more welcome listen. Sure, it’s not as furious and aggressive, not as devastating as an album from SACRAMENTUM, A CANOROUS QUINTET, CENTINEX and VINTERLAND, but it does have its own charm and character - I ahve to admit that now. Blending mentioned DISSECTION-esque melodic death / black metal with a surprisingly often present IRON MAIDEN-ism we get an album standing above many others. DECAMERON is close in finding a perfect balance between all these styles and their own original sound. Sure, some songs, like the awesome “Our Time Has Come” and “Satanized” (which was written in cooperation with Jon from DISSECTION) stand above the others as more aggressive and straight forward with almost thrashing chorus and riffage while “Le Roi Triste” is more melodic based, with some classic heavy metal instrumental passages and guitar soloing. But still also this song has found a room for some arse kicking fast playing.
Another standout song, “The Scar of Damnation”, is just great. It’s opening minute long riffage is excellent, having both thrashing riffs as well as some truly catchy melodic ones, then followed by quite melancholic parts. Finally its ending brings wonderful melodies and riffs and… some clean vocals, which give something extra really. It must be remembered that DECAMERON composes quite lengthy tracks; most of them are above the average 5-6 minutes, so they have plenty of time to show the amount of ideas they want. And that’s why the entire album, every song actually is so varied and exciting. “Sexual Immortality” brings some more angry and aggressive riffs, so does “Skabma”, which is quite thrash metal oriented, but still with black metal feeling, great vocals and almost epic feeling in some places. Again there are many rhythm changes, many riffs, harmonies, lots of things are happening within one track.
“My Shadow…” have some lower quality spoken vocals, which honestly I would erase if I had a chance. Basically it’s the least interesting song, with some irritating fragments like lenghty solos and real awful clean vocals. Unfortunately “Prophecy of Life to Come” doesn’t bring the highest quality back to the music as it also has some shitty clean vocals – luckily they're present only for few seconds – while the riffs aren’t as strong as those in the previous tracks. Finally the last song, “Mistress of Sacrifice” turns out to be quite shitty heavy metal track, whose clean vocals again don’t give the best impression and the overall melancholic feeling and ballad-esque beginning are just horrible. Yeah, this is the worst track on the album…
Uff, I have to say that "My Shadow" material is very uneven - it's an album, which I have to divide into two parts – first one gathers great songs and riffing, with some truly memorable anthems such as “Satanized” and “Scar of Damnation”, while the second half has lower quality riffs and unnecessary weak clean vocals and simply looses the feeling and aggression. Still though I consider DECAMERON as a good band, which had some potential, but unfortunately ceased to exist after this one album for some reasons.
Bah, I'd like to be quite brief here. This wolf in sheep's clothing was always going to be ignored by most due to it being melodic death from Gothenburg, and I was no exception, thus I was surprised indeed to find that this is actually a fine release.
Decameron, formerly known as Nekrofobic (mmm...), clearly take influences from Swedish bands like Eucharist, At the Gates and Necrophobic, and while they're a bit more streamlined than any of those bands at their respective peaks, they're still a few notches above most from that scene. There's also an Arghoslent vibe in places.
Decameron are quite technical, they're rich in harmony and texture, there's quite a lot of rhythm-changes but it's mainly well-composed and purposeful. The melodies are folky in places, thrashy in others, occasionally on the cheesier Gothenburg side of things, but generally very good. Narrative in structure, the songs are mainly in between 5 and 8 minutes, and most conjure a sense of epic which the great majority of melo-death bands are entirely devoid of. Drumming is adequately technical but not too special, and the lyrics couldn't be any more typical. I've never been good at describing vocals, but these are in between Eucharist's growls and Lindberg's shrieks, methinks.
There are a few shitty parts; clean-vocalled passages that really wouldn't sound out of place on a Soilwork album, for example. There's also times when Decameron are so clearly copying Eucharist it's ridiculous to my ears. This is hardly a groundbreaking recording. It stands head-and-shoulders above the current crop of rubbish coming from melo-death, though, and is definitely worth purchasing.
Decameron plays Swedish melodic deathmetal. That should tell you enough. It's not 100% gothenburg sound though.
Sure they borrow the typical guitarsound largely, and it certainly is guitardriven music. And the lyrics are about 'dark' subjects, with the vocals in that typical kind of death-vox. But it would almost seem they're just slightly on the edge of the gothenburg sound. Maybe it's the different mix/guitar sound. Maybe because the music has slightly more sense of direction.
On the other hand, what the music has in the illusion of technicality, is juxtaposed with certain elements of 'wankery', as in the alternation of high and low notes at near-unexpected moments, to make it seem technical (as it would appear to me).
This is a nice cd if you can find it cheap, and you like the idea of swedes going all out on their guitars, but all in all it really isn't all that special in an otherwise bloated scene. It's a band worthy of listening, but not a band that renews your faith in anything labeled 'melodic death metal'. It just rises very slightly above the genre.