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A Decent, If Flawed, Debut - 65%

Shadoeking, April 1st, 2011

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.