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Loch Vostok is a Swedish band featuring members of such far flung acts as Wuthering Heights, Machinery, and F.K.Ü. The style is a hybrid of progressive metal and a driving melodeath undercurrent, though the lean is largely towards the former. Reveal No Secrets is their third album, and it deals with conspiracy theory and the loss of civil liberties. I'm always glad to see a band paying attention to what's going in the world.
For the most part, the hybrid of fist driving rhythms and prog/power metal vocals work well, but there is a major downside to the album...the growls and snarls are really lackluster. The lead vocals are perfectly sufficient without having to slather them in what sound like horrible third rate US Gothencore/melodeath gang gurgles. I realize the intent is to give the style some edge to it, but they really end up worthless and distracted from what is otherwise a good release. "Loss of Liberty" has some rocking if simple riffs with a scintillating keyboard line to give it some depth, but once that verse and those vocals kick in...ouch. "Dig Deeper" is another example. Good, solid, grooving rhythms that work well with the keyboards, and for most of the song they stick to just the cleans, but then in the bridge, here come the unecessary dual snarls. "Uncompassion" and "Blindfolds Off" are yet two more examples of good power/prog metal tracks tainted by the growls.
As far as the mix, it's alright. The chords gleam and the keyboards, though somewhat separate sounding from the band, are never excessive. Basically if you favor the more recent Soilwork style of writing, Loch Vostok could appeal to you. I like the band's message and I wish more thrash or power metal bands would add a refreshing, political edge to their lyrics, but I just could not get past the burdensome 'corish/melodeath vocals on this one.
Again, a band I have never heard of yet. Loch Vostok from Uppsala plays pure Swedish metal, although not melodic death as the promo says. True enough, the mid-paced parts remind me of Clayman-era In Flames – though these themselves were not typical melodeath themes – and there is something in it from the drum and synth work and melodic aggression of Finnish bands such as Norther. Nonetheless, Loch Vostok’s music is more traditional than that, and I would simply call it prog-power despite the few different influences.
Swedes are good at this genre. Two releases I scored at Kronos Mortus popped into my mind, namely those by Scariot and Machinery. I wish I could say that Loch Vostok can smoothly be placed next to them; it is indeed a melodic and powerful album but, unfortunately, with non-negligible flaws.
The first two songs are excellent. Whirling, strictly chugging rhythm guitars in that true prog/power style; in both songs, very fitting choruses filled with much emotion are featured as well. Very nice is the duel delivered by the tough rhythm / soft chorus combo. Were all the songs on this album like that, I would gladly give a maximum rating.
As a closing for the first two progressive-tanned songs comes a short acoustic outro, followed by some turn in direction. There comes the more classical power-styled Dig Deeper. This song, I think, is among the less good ones; I miss from here the raspiness of the first two songs, despite the staccato part where even some grunting occurs.
The fourth song starts off very promising, somewhat Nevermore-ish; dark, chugging guitar theme and a very fitting distorted chorus. Unfortunately this is wasted by the then following verse, where the singer hits some incredibly high tone. This europower yelling absolutely doesn’t fit this sort of music! Fortunately the cool, dynamic yet melancholic synth solo quickly makes us forgive all that; it’s again a big pity, though, that the song ends at the best part, by swooning away at the part it’s just about to get harder. Raiders Of The Lost Heart is also upsettingly wasted; it would be very good if Teddy Möller didn’t strain the harsh vocals in the verses, since he is singing very well in the choruses.
Unfortunately, there are some duller tracks as well. The fifth Thirty Years gets interesting only at the second half, at the synth solo. Track seven Blindfolds Off doesn’t uphold my attention even with its twisted rhythm and acoustic guitars – at this point, the album begins to get tiring. What once was feels definitely boring compared to the previous songs; it’s telling that the verse here is catchier than the chorus. The vocalist’s pointless shrieking is frustrating for me.
At this point I arrived at one of the band’s permanent problem, singing. Teddy Möller, who is liable for the lead vocals, is no doubt a talented and well-trained vocalist, but it seems as though he cannot decide what to do. He is able to sound akin to a great many vocalists ranging from Bruce Dickinson to Timo Kotipelko, but many of the voices he uses don’t fit the music at all. This high-pitched shrieking is totally to be abandoned, for this is just not the music to which it belongs. Not to mention the growls; I like harsh vocals but, again, it’s absolutely unfitting here! Even worse, compared to the clean vocals the harsh ones feel dull, boring and powerless. Möller would actually do better to stay in the middle range throughout and use his more masculine, Nevermore-ish voice. That’s what he is best at, and he would still have much opportunity for variation.
This album would be worth eighty percent (or even hundred, for the first two songs) if three or four fillers were omitted, and if Teddy Möller sang throughout as he should. Still not bad, but certain parts have to be skipped or winded over if one doesn’t want to get upset. Too bad…