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The title of this album suggests that this is some sort of poppy goth metal, while the cover art would make you guess that it is a soundtrack of a waterfall in an enchanted forest. Fortunately, I’ve found out that it’s neither. Turns out that the music is far more brutal than both the cover art and the album title combined (if the combination of the two would even increase brutality in a positive direction).
When I heard the first track, “Into The Morgue,” my first impression was that the vocals are way too high on the mix. And they probably are, depending on what kind of music you want to listen to. The thing is Leukemia seemed to have tried a lot of different things in this album; although the experimentation may be a little subtle to notice. I would probably say there are three main types of music fused here: typical old school Swedish death metal (Entombed style); a bit more melodic Swedish death metal, although of the good kind like Desultory; and lastly I would say that there is a clear resemblance to early Tiamat, which is primarily thanks to the vocalist’s style of using easy to understand semi-growls (that are louder than the rest of the music).
At times, the music does sound a lot like hard rock/hardcore, and this was one of my main frustrations while listening to the album. They will randomly insert rock/hardcore rhythm guitars and have the vocalist yell more aggressively (yes, I say yell). At times it actually doesn’t sound too bad; in fact, in a few songs they reminded me of a thrash/hardcore band by the name of Ringworm, who pull off the “hardcore meets metal” thing not too terribly (by that I mean they’re actually good at it). Other times, it just sounds out of place and honestly a little disappointing, as rare as it happens. Another one of my frustrations with the album was the singing done, which also simply does not belong anywhere in this album. I don’t have anything against singing, but the singing was very “gothic-like,” and I’m just not a fan of gothic metal in general. However, maybe after several more spins, I might eventually get used to the singing, so who knows?
Going back to the positive side of the album, the songs consist of a lot of fast paced riffs that are usually mixed with groovy, mid-paced riffs (sometimes a little thrashy). Their songwriting is often well done, and they are quite patient with building and working their way through riffs in each song. Even into the second half of the album, the riffs are relatively fresh, which I personally did not expect. With such a formula, I assumed they would quickly run out of ideas and steer into repetition, which they never quite reached. Something else that’s worth mentioning is the god-like shredding in the solos. They’re often pretty short, but very satisfying (if you have heard the legendary intro solo to Entombed’s “Left Hand Path,” you’ll have a good idea on what I’m talking about). What’s even more satisfying is that the solos are always followed by headbang-inducing riffs, which are uaually not fucked up by any experimenting (thankfully, Leukemia like to keep it conventional when they should). With the combination of the solos and riffs, we do have the whole package here folks.
Overall, the entire album feels a little awkward because of all the different sounds combined. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s simply a bunch of experimentation (which is done quite conservatively compared to real experimental metal bands), but I do think that this experimentation has helped them achieve enough to be more than the average Swedish death metal band. So in a way, it does hurt me a little on the inside to find out how little this band is known, as they have done some unique things on this release. If you are a fan of old school Swedish death metal, there’s a good chance you will enjoy at least one aspect of this album. As for everyone else, this album could receive very differing responses. And as much as I don’t want to turn off any potential listeners, I will be fair with a tiny sprinkle of generosity, and give the album a rating of 65.