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It's been quite awhile since these guys contacted me. I just recently had a chance to check out their music.
I first heard about Netherbird from a Metal Maniacs compilation album. Intrigued by their take on symphonic black metal, I wanted to hear more. So here we have their 2008 album The Ghost Collector. The Swedish band has a lot of ideas and seems to be trying to fit a whole bunch of them together at once.
There are elements of a number of styles on this release. The band seems to be trying to find a middle ground between the styles of Cradle of Filth, Emperor, The Sins of Thy Beloved, and Satyricon. There are black metal elements, death metal elements, gothic metal elements, and doom metal elements, all thrown together into a caustic mix that can be a little overwhelming at times. But when they succeed, it sounds great.
The music tends to plod along at a medium pace, calling to mind Cradle of Filth. The only problem with this is that the production does not really support it very well. If it is to be slower, the guitars and bottom end need to be beefier. Emphasize the doomy elements for a middle-paced album.
The individual instrumentation is very good. The keyboards add a lot of melody and make up the symphonic elements of Netherbird's sound. The guitar tone is decent, but as I said, it could be a little more prevalent within the music itself. The drums do not really do a lot of interesting stuff but they remain decent.
The vocals are impressive. I actually prefer the vocalist's death metal vocals which are delivered in a very deep roar to his more basic black metal rasp. The backing vocals are very interesting. Sounding something like ICS Vortex's backing vocals for some of Dimmu Borgir's work, they add a melodic, yet sinister touch to the overall sound. It's oddly chilling.
This is only the band's debut album. I have not heard their follow-up yet, but if they improve on just a few things, they could be a very good band. There are not a lot of truly great symphonic black metal bands out there right now. Netherbird could rise to the top of the pack quickly.
Well, *sigh* what can I say? In some ways this album is awesome, but in other ways it blows.
Let's start with the vocals. Alright they're decent, nothing to really jack-off over, but they're alright. What I have a problem with is that the backing vocals are AWESOME! How do the fucking backing vocals sound better than the lead vocals? That makes no fucking sense to me. They should just drop Nephente and let Johan do all the vocals. Of the lead vocals, I do like how they alter your standard black metal vox with your death metal vox. I also have to say Nephente's death metal vocals are way better than his black metal vocals. Moving on...
Let's delve into the music - it's very well mixed. The guitar and bass lines are awesome - but the tone of the guitars kind of sucks and doesn't really fit the style at all. In my opinion, they need a little more high-end and to be a little crunchier, in a good tubed-head that's well overdriven kind of way. Maybe a little less on the mids too. A touch or two of presence wouldn't hurt either. The drums, why good and well played, are kind of uninteresting and lack-luster to say the least. The same can be said for the keys. Overall the music could stand a speed boost. This particular style, at least in my opinion, is better played at lightning-fast shredder speeds, much like Dissection's "Storm of the Light's Bane" instead of what this is, a mid-paced deal akin to the tempo of something like Cradle of Filth, or some other boring goth band.
This kind of reminds me of a less-good version of Embraced. The music is so well written, but the tone and deliverance just kills it. I would definitely listen to this three or four times before deciding on buying it. Most likely you'll not end up buying it, much in the way I didn't.
Have you ever quested through your infinite collection of CDs, only to find a few that take up space and will probably never enter your ears again due to lackluster content? This here will be one of those cursed items. Netherbird does bad business in musical terms, as their approach towards black metal leads them down a road of goth-influenced notes much like a black metal version of Cradle of Filth (how ironic) while basically kicking a dead horse, so to speak. I firmly believe this style of metal can have its benefits, but “The Ghost Collector” plods continuously and without positive reinforcement, adding very little substance or anything enjoyable at day’s end.
So, Netherbird attempts some strange mixture of melodic black metal entwined with slight gothic touches that, at times, can take total control over the primary systems mandating how “The Ghost Collector” operates. Their direction as a whole lacks solid ideas, creating an album of songs driven by keyboards and bland riffs done a million times before. Sadly, nothing really changes from this observation. As the record progresses, Netherbird begins a painful process of suicide due to their wonderful ability of not altering vanilla formations and keeping repetition at bay. However, all this pessimism is not to go without saying there are a handful of impressive riffs and musical patterns, such as “Blood Orchid” or “The Blackest Breed,” which are heavy, beautiful notes connecting the fallen lines of gothic tears and black metal together as they should be: heavy and beautiful. Overall though, one will easily see the goods are few and far between, which sucks, yet that’s the risk Netherbird took.
From then on, things just get colder and colder. Slow songs ranging from pathetic to downright miserable begin tainting the picture with unoriginal tremolo pickings, boring mid-paced sections, vocals that don’t the musical situation, and generally poor directions on a poetic spectrum. “The Ghost Collector” finally ends on its lowest note throughout “Boulevard Black,” which proves Netherbird cannot write concrete anthems without pushing themselves into redundant territories. I mean who wants to hear a fourteen-minute cut of watered-down musicianship and meandering formulas? Ironically, this horrendous tune captures the sole philosophy behind Netherbird’s debut: take half-assed black metal, stir in gothic feces, cook for a few minutes, and finally indulge.
Ah shit, another invisible attempt at melodic black metal. This time, it’s a bird from Hell: Netherbird! A lame joke indeed, but that’s exactly the point: Netherbird has little aiding them in battle throughout “The Ghost Collector,” because this album stays in its non-evolutionary status from an obsolete introduction to a fourteen-minute flop of embarrassing proportions. “The Ghost Collector” matches mediocrity in its truest form, so I don’t suggest purchasing this CD unless you’ve got brass balls and a will to spend your money on risk rather than guaranteed substance. Some improvement wouldn’t be a bad thing at all, you crazy birds of Hell you.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com