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Midgard is a four piece melodic death metal band formed in the year 2000, but recently reactivated, releasing their newest full length album, “Satellite”.
I use the genre melodic death metal loosely, as they seem to have managed to create something entirely different from anything I’ve ever heard before, and it’s very difficult to put a specific genre to them. The new album features the raw recording quality of early Carcass albums, meets the melodies and harmonized vocals of In Flames. The guitar work jumps from crunching rhythm to soaring, intricate pieces, while the drums remain galloping solidly behind. Alex Shalenko, the vocalist, has impressive high-pitched black metal-esque screams but transitions into stunning clean singing as smooth as a knife through butter. The album as a whole has a quite memorable sound; however it’s unfortunately drowned in muddy recording quality. Unclear recording works fantastically for the world of death metal and grind, but throw in the melodic aspects and it can get lost rather quickly. That being said, “Satellite” is one hell of a comeback album and should be taken seriously as re-entrance into the metal world.
“Empire” starts the album off with a bang, with Shalenko’s lower guttural vocal style stealing the show, trailing into your first impression of his cleans. His vocals are layered, harmonizing each other, and the higher pitched vocals closely resemble those found in power metal. Like a well-trained vocalist, his vibrato is prominent and strong, but seems to get lost with the muddiness of his lower layer. The string work is killer, though I’d like to hear more of the bass, the riffs are catchy. The drums resemble the galloping style typically found in power metal, mixed with a good solid death metal base. It’s a killer beginning to a great release, and really shows you what the band is all about.
Then the band presents us with tracks like “Winter Assault” that begins with an audio clip of warfare, leading into a riff straight out of the world of Stratovarius, but twists back into one of the heaviest tracks on the album. The bass lines are easily recognizable and the drums are driving solidly along. The song moves along with a great groove and is easily one of the best on the record. “Absolute Zero Heart” is truly striking. It’s a slower song while still maintaining a heavy drive. The lyrics to this song really get to me, “Absolute zero heart grows colder again, to recognize the fear, forget about the pain. Absolute zero heart dissolving in vain, these words of hate and love are footsteps, footsteps in the rain.” The album ends on a high note, with the song “If” that is eight minutes of fantastic melodeath.
Altogether, this is a solid release deserving of some serious attention in the heavy metal world. The only complaint about the record I can come up with is the recording quality, but luckily I get to see them live and enjoy the true sound that didn’t quite make it to the recording. For fans of death metal and melodic metal alike, check out Midgard. You won’t be disappointed!
[Originally written for Metalholic.com]