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Svensson on this one album outmatches anything he’s done in In Flames. Sure he’s loud and hostile in In Flames, but there’s no dashing creativity or soul behind his efforts in that band. Sacrilege is where he’s performing blistering, emotional drumming that’s he’s doing as a personal mission. Second to the guitars, my attention focuses on the drumwork, since Svensson always has a rhythm to connect with the music. His snare is a little colder and bonk-sounding than the one on Lost In The Beauty You Slay, but aside from that, it’s the same killer kit barred from fragility. The bellicose guitars face off against the belligerent riffs; viciousness is at an all-time high for melodic death. Svensson has another role, vocals, that are primarily ghoulish screams akin to black metal vocalists. Occasionally he’ll hit some clear death growls and some semi-gothic chant-speaking, but the screams are the predominant style, and their bite matches their savagery. He’s a step down in shredded screams under someone like Henke Forss (Dawn (Swe)).
The two songs that don’t feature these feral vocals, the title track and “Sorg”, have their own class that are great for listeners to focus on the classic Swedish melodic death style. The title track is the fully acoustic track that strips away the dark, antagonistic tone of the album and adopts a forlorn hope of an atmosphere. The melodies on it are touching, but not as impactful as the abrasive, electronic ones in its instrumental counterpart, “Sorg”. This song I’d put as one of the best on the album along with “Seduction Nocturne” and “Feed The Cold”. The blend of heartrending harmonies and turbulent riffs from a scorching guitar tone, along with that nostalgic feeling, probably makes it the most engrossing song Sacrilege ever recorded. The song doesn’t drag on and nothing sounds unnecessary, like the rest of the album. Everything has a purpose, and every instrument does its job to the fullest. The hounding riffs that rile and devastate are followed closely by the bass, allowing for an extra boom to the already severe guitar tone.
Production for The Fifth Season was handled the same way as the debut, so there isn’t any drastic change in sound. There’s clarity, mixing that’s ripe and balanced, and retention of the old school tone and atmosphere. The same can still be said about the music – aggressive, moving melodic death that gives a heavy nod to the Gothenburg sound. Whereas the main Gothenburg trio (Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates, and In Flames) got sterile eventually, Sacrilege kept the connection with death metal while still observing the finer side of melodic death metal’s traits. There’s a blend of death metal’s enmity and the classical / baroque style of melodic death in songs like “Sorg” that capture the best of the genre.
So The Fifth Season leaves the band 2/2. It’s been many years, and the band has since reformed, but as of writing this, nothing final has come out of it. For fans of the band, the wait has been too long. In Flames continues to suck musically and time-wise, prohibiting Svensson from concentrating on this side project that actually shows his creative juices, along with band mates that are actually worth a damn. Give both the debut and this some love while the wait continues.
Listening to Sacrilege I start to wonder why In Flames doesn't give more leg room to Daniel, he's obviously very talented.
Vocal and drumming duties on The Fifth Season are handled by current In Flames drummer Daniel Svensson, and believe me when I say, his work here is much more impressive than his work with In Flames. I never was very impressed with his drum work with In Flames, but here it's very well done and original. He also sings. His style is very black influenced as opposed to Death, consisting of high screams and shreiks.
Musically, it's more or less melodic death, but melodic death done right! As a huge fan of the genre, even I must admit for every excellent band like Sacrilege, there's 5-10 watered down bands that have no feel or emotion.
The melodies here contrast, some sounding uplifting and flying (Sweet Moment of Triumpth, Nine Eyes of Twilight, Moaning Idiot Heart) while others are dark, much like At the Gates early work (Feed the Cold, Seduction Nocturne, The Winter Enticed).
And no great melodic death record should be without great and emotional instrumental passages, which this album has. The title track "Fifth Season" is a folky interlude that sounds as cold as it feels. Sorg and the intro to Seduction Nocturne feel the same and are equally as impressive.
Production wise, this album couldn't be better. It's clean and heavy without sounding modern, and has none of the electronic studio tricks In Flames are known for.
I recommend this album, no instrumental wanking, never gets boring, great vocals and production, and harsh, anguish filled vocals.