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Slowing Down The Heart - 92%

Tlacaxipehualiztli, August 2nd, 2011

This album is definitely the best thing recorded with Ville Laihiala. After releasing very weak “Frozen” which really froze my heart almost to death, I believed that Sentenced could create better stuff. When I saw the front cover for the first time, I thought: “yes, for sure this is fine picture, better than the previous one, so let the music fill my senses…”.

The production of the album is very similar to the predecessor. In spite of changing of the studio (this time MD and Tico-Tico, Hiilesmaa as producer), the sound doesn’t differ a lot. I can hear only ‘fuller’ and ‘richer’ guitar tunes. But the main and essential difference is the undeniable quality of these new songs. On “Frozen” I found only two songs keeping top level, here there is no filler track on “Crimson”. This album has no intro on the start and listener is attacked by “Bleed In My Arms” which is in fact standard song coming from “Crimson”. The powerful riffs are the base here, while excellent sound of guitars fills the air (production!). “Frozen” is defeated! But there is also one very important thing: Finns didn’t invite a woman who could sing and help the vocalist. Both previous albums were ‘enriched’ with these female vocals and, believe me, it was the worst moment on the album (though there were no many offerings from Birgit Zacher, the overall mark of “Down” and “Frozen” is effectively beat down). In short, these vocal performances completely do not fit to the music of Sentenced.

Ok, let’s back to some better things. To the SONGS! The first part of the album, three tracks, is maintained in rather mid tempo and I call them as typical metal tunes in Sentenced style. Of course in top level definitely, so the start is perfect for me. But the best is yet to come. When third “Fragile” ends, “No More Beating As One” fills my mind. Here “Crimson” polishes and gains impetus. Although the chorus is similar to one song from “Frozen” (hopefully to the best one, “For The Love I Bear”), I can admire very hard and heavy guitars (Tenkula/Lopakka duo!), really crushing riffs. What is interesting, the song has a short (luckily!) keyboard patch and excellent solo lead lasting about seventeen seconds. The song turns into another pearl almost imperceptibly. Its name is “Broken” and in my opinion it is the best track on “Crimson”. Fast, energetic opening, stanza without hard guitar riffs (but bone crushing bass lines are present here as well) and the chorus: great Sentenced melodic metal tunes! In addition there is another Tenkula very interesting solo performance which is too short once again. “Broken” ends suddenly and the piano opens the next song nicely called “Killing Me, Killing You”. Again the band proposes calm stanza (piano/bass/drums/vocals) and before the chorus guitarists join the team. In the end of the track there is one interesting thing which enriches it: Laihiala sings with piano only. When the song reaches its end, you can see that Tenkula doesn’t play his solo in this track. What a pity…

Practically the next tracks confirm first class of this album. “Dead Moon Rising” has powerful riffs and once again interesting guitar work, “The River” (I call this semi-ballad because of its calm and quiet atmosphere) with really beautiful, relaxative tunes and the same situation as in the previous songs: short solo lead… The next one “One More Day” has a great opening melodic guitar line, both music and lyrics are very pessimistic. In turn “With Bitterness And Joy” reminds me of the first “Bleed In My Arms” a bit, yes, here we have longer solo lead and excellent ending of this killer song. At a foot’s pace Sentenced goes into the last crimson pearl called “My Slowing Heart”. This song has completely another quality, in spite of its rather simple construction, it is not forgettable. Everything here is based on mightful yet crushing, marching Tenkula/Lopakka riffs with slow choruses and the strangest solo on the album. “My Slowing Heart” really differs from the rest nine predecessors and I think it is the best thing to close “Crimson” up.

To sum all things up: this album I put next to the two classic immortal Sentenced releases: “North From Here” and “Amok”. Of course “Crimson” isn’t the best stuff composed by Finns, however third place in their discography is obvious for sure. By this album I quickly forgot about “Frozen” and even “Down” (esp. female experiments), musicians changed the studio and rose from the ashes on motherland ground. After crimson production, they showed two more albums to the metal world, but they didn’t maintain this masterly level. The last path has name “The Funeral Album” and Sentenced died. Just like the spirit and main songwriter Miika Tenkula (due to heart failure, rest in peace man…). All happened on February 2009 and I wonder here about the last song of crimson album “My Slowing Heart” as some kind of prophecy…