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A dead city in darkness. - 80%

hells_unicorn, August 1st, 2011

If metal is your preferred pass time, it’s a pretty safe bet that being from Finland will result in a very happy life, the dark and depressive winters not withstanding. Some have pointed to there being a signature Finnish sound that generally pervades bands in different points in the spectrum, from the commercial brand to the underground. It generally consists of a polished and gloomy aesthetic with a powerful drum presence, a constant stream of keyboard atmospheres and a somewhat processed yet still chunky and percussive. Whether it be melodic death metal, black metal or power metal, this tendency endures. In this respect, Enthrope comes in as a sort of dark/death Metal alternative that actually embodies this sound in a purer way.

The newly released debut of this outfit “Tomorrow’s Dead Days” touts a hazy landscape of fatalistic woe, interpreted through a Melodeath sound with a heavily atmospheric tendency, almost as if early Dark Tranquillity had been merged with the contemporary incarnation of Fear Factory. There are occasional techno influences and periods of what sound like latent groove metal tendencies, but the general drive of the sound is sort of a slowed down version of the early Gothenburg sound. The vocals range from raspy to raunchy, occasionally making way for clean vocals, both male and female, but the context doesn’t lend itself to a typical beauty and the beast model as heard out of Sirenia or Tristania. This is a sound that is more bleak and apocalyptic than saddening and subjectively depressing, offering up imagery of darkened cities of rusted out machinery under an ominous night sky.

Amid the generally plodding and stationary nature of this music is a collection of moderately long songs that could rope in a variety of death/doom and melodeath fans, and is actually on a somewhat energetic level that differs greatly from the likes of Opeth. “The Last Lunation” does a particularly good job of presenting a down tempo answer to the middle era work of In Flames. “Illumination Paradox” accents the electronic music tendencies of this band and merges them with an assortment of punishing chug riffs and aggravated shouts, almost like a Sci-Fi variant on the theme of a serial killer movie. But the zenith of this album comes in right at the close in “Stars Of Nhagrad”, which takes the epic route and compresses all of the band’s atmospheric and extreme influences into one 8 minute glory fest of darkness and despair, almost like the final scene of an interplanetary battle before the losing side’s planet is utterly wiped out.

The biggest problem that I’ve generally had with dark metal has been an overemphasis on atmosphere and not enough of a focus on an identifiable melodic content. Enthrope have essentially bridged the divide between what makes Gothenburg music so popular and generally tends to make dark metal more of an underground phenomenon. This is an album that could definitely do with some love, though it might be a little tame for those who go for the sicker material that runs parallel to this such as The Axis Of Perdition. This is the sort of album that would appeal to a more mainline extreme metal audience that generally goes for middle-era Dimmu Borgir and maybe also Bal-Sagoth. But whichever side of the extreme metal paradigm one tends towards, this is definitely worth looking into.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on July 21, 2011.