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I don't think it is particularly unfair to state that For Aeons Past had the potential to be something interesting, as there was a marginal contingent of fans pining to see where Älvestam would take his enviable vocal chops after his controversial departure from Scar Symmetry. This burgeoning anticipation came to a head at just the wrong time, with Scar Symmetry respectably doing their own thing by trying to dodge the shadows of thirsts past quenched, only to be met with a collective shrug of indifference by those unable to accept the dual-vocalist approach. Finding myself defending Scar Symmetry is perhaps the most ironic of affairs, as they have never been a great band by any measure. Holographic Universe had exactly two good songs ("Morphogenesis," "Ghost Prototype I (Measurement of Thought)") and was otherwise a pretentious waste of time lacking in both riffs and memorable hooks.
Even so, if I hear another person claim For Aeons Past as the spiritual successor to Holographic Universe I think I'll puke, as this record is appreciably devoid of what few glamours made Älvestam's earlier achievements serviceable listens. The amount of talent squandered here is marked, but shoehorning Älvestam into a rather flaccid European groove metal act does not a more cohesive whole make. To be frank, I'm not quite sure what this is even supposed to be, being an inequitable amalgam of silky-smooth clean vocals conglomerated with a tepid groove metal core. "The Close Beyond" opens the gates in a rather convincing manner, featuring a fair number of vocal hooks along with a passable stop-start disposition, but even this fails to stick with the listener afterward. Älvestam's tenor is still soft as butter and a real treat more often than not, but the aforementioned imbalances often sour the mood just when something might come of it all. His death growls are competent, but the raspier shrieks he utilizes in equal measure are highly unwelcome and do not gel with the style at all.
In my opinion Solution .45 would get a lot more mileage out of an approach emphasizing melodic rock instead of metal, as there are quite a few passages where the band excels in these confines, only to kneecap themselves when the obligatory back-burner groove interval rears its misshapen head. I choose "Gravitational Lensing" as my example in this regard, as the brief opening lead sounds like it really might segue into something grand, only to devolve into the ordinary and predictable. The chorus is decent (as most are here), but the band just needs to figure their shit out and stop trying to appease the aforementioned contingent of castoff Scar Symmetry fans. Älvestam has made no secret of his adoration for '80s pop and rock music, and while traces of this approach are evident on much of For Aeons Past, most would be better off checking out his solo project instead.
This is an exhausting listen as well, with the lion's share of the reputable material logjammed near the front of the pecking order. "Clandestinity Now" is a real behemoth of a slog, trying to inveigle the listener through pure excess despite lacking the overt exultant features required to pull such a coup. Somewhere buried in here is journeyman keyboardist Mikko Härkin, who is totally wasted and does absolutely nothing interesting. This solidifies the aforementioned argument that Solution .45 lacks a clear goal and/or objective. It is almost as if many of these musicians simply stumbled into the Älvestam collaboration and were forced to revise their approach accordingly to appeal to his fan base.
In fact, that is almost certainly what happened here, and the end result was a blunder of sizable proportions. Perhaps of some interest to those that really adore earlier Scar Symmetry, but fans of Älvestam's chops alone can get a more thrilling fix on Self 2.0, a record that ejects the metal element in light of a more unplugged approach, which allows his vocal chops to carry the load on their own. Vocal chops that I have always been a fan of, but this is just too much to stomach. Check out the first two tracks if you are that interested, and kindly move along. Nothing else to see here, folks.
While it was sad and disappointing to see vocalist Christian Älvestam depart from Swedish melodic death metal band Scar Symmetry, just as the band was really taking off, we all knew and hoped that he would soon enough be involved with another high profile metal project.
Being involved with numerous bands and projects, including the Nuclear Blast All-Stars collaboration, the lesser known The Few Against Many and finally Miseration; you’d think Älvestam wouldn’t have time for anything else. 2007 was a huge year for Christian, with the Nuclear Blast All-Stars releasing ‘Out Of The Dark’ (with Älvestam contributing vocals to one song), and Miseration releasing their debut album ‘Your Demons - Their Angels’. But in September of that year, guitarist Jani Stefanovic (who is also in Miseration and The Few Against Many) asked Älvestam to be the singer in his newly created melodic death metal band called Solution.45. Älvestam accepted the offer and joined the band, leaving behind Scar Symmetry; who brought on board two vocalists to fill the void a month after Älvestam’s departure.
Älvestam was the final member (and a very important one) of the band, which also includes guitarist Tom Gardiner (Hateform, Essence of Sorrow), bassist Anders Edlund (Angel Blake, The Few Against Many) and drummer Rolf Pilve (Essence of Sorrow, Miseration). Keyboardist Mikko Härkin (Mehida, Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica) left the band after the recording of the debut album, and as such has been listed as a guest musician in the credits. Jani Stefanovic has stated that despite Christian singing for the new band, Solution.45 will not sound like Scar Symmetry. It may not be exactly like Scar Symmetry, but the CD ‘From Aeons Past’ does share immediate comparisons and similarity.
As far as melodic death metal goes, ‘From Aeons Past’ is as heavy and aggressive as you can get. Quite melancholic too, the blend of Älvestam’s “dual” vocals for which he’s known for, reigns supreme throughout the disc. Drawing comparisons with fellow melodic death metal/metalcore band Into Eternity, Solution.45’s sound stomps that band into the ground with stronger guitar riffs, blistering speed, creative song structures and a more bombastic and epic feel. Working with Dark Tranquillity’s frontman, Mikael Stanne on a previous endeavour; Jani and co. have again collaborated with Stanne, who has written the lyrics for the entire album.
The CD opens with the first brutal track called “The Close Beyond”. The speedy opening riff could shatter glass as the double bass goes into overdrive, before the throat of Älvestam opens up for a brooding and deepened growl. The cross over between clean and harsh vocals is immensely impressive, as Christian does have a great melodic and harmonious voice; while his harsh spits and shrieks send shivers down your spine. It’s without a doubt that “The Close Beyond” is a fantastic and ripping track and arguably the best on the album. Älvestam does not use his dual-singing style on every track on the CD, as on the ballad “Lethean Tears”, Älvestam sings the track entirely with clean vocals. The passion and emotion in his voice is incredible, while the track itself is sombre, melancholic and brilliant.
The most epic track on the album, however, is the final track entitled “Clandestinity Now”, which clocks in at just over 16 minutes. “Clandestinity Now” is a wonder from beginning to end, containing many structure changes throughout, including tempo, melody and ferocity. Other tracks which standout on ‘From Aeons Past’ include “On Embered Fields Adust”, “Wirethrone”, “Bladed Vaults”, and lastly the title track, “From Aeons Past”.
Typically different than a normal debut album, Solution.45 have proven and veteran musicians in its midst, replicating an almost “all-star” line up; so it’s no wonder that ‘From Aeons Past’ is so good. I wonder though where will Christian Älvestam go from here? He’s already associated with a few other bands, but which one takes the most important preference? Like guitar wiz Gus G from power metal band Firewind, at one stage he too was playing for numerous bands (Mystic Prophecy, Dream Evil, Nightrage) before he eventually realized that it was too much to handle and chose to stay with only Firewind (although since 2009, Gus G also plays guitar for Ozzy Osbourne). Solution.45 sounds like a great band, with a great future, and for Älvestam it is a natural progression moving on from Scar Symmetry. I just don’t want him to hang around for about 2-3 albums and then find another project elsewhere, leaving Solution.45 in a stagnant position.
For now, thankfully, Christian is entrenched in Solution.45 and the debut album kicks ass. ‘From Aeons Past’ is highly recommended for fans of melodic death metal, particularly fans of Scar Symmetry who have been having Älvestam withdrawals ever since he left. Out through AFM Records, the purchase of this CD is a complete no brainer – it’s a must have.
Originally written for www.themetalforge.com
I was set to love this from the get go: Christian Alvestam and a gang of esteemed musicians from acts such as Essence of Sorrow, DivineFire, and Miseration. Hell they even had Mikko Harkin do the keyboard parts on the album. We even see the mighty Mikael Stanne contributing lyrics and backing vocals to the fold – it's easy to see why expectations could be set high for the unsuspecting "melodeath" fan. From the surface you could be mistaken in thinking this was indeed good, with spot on production, superb vocals and some damn fan guitar solos. Sadly the songs themselves lack any sort of drawing factor, it's a case of been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.
This is just all too streamlined for my liking, really giving off the feeling of striving for a wider audience. While Christian's vocals may still be pretty damn good he's starting to stick a lot more to his melodic register, I would have much preferred a balance between the aggressive and melodic much like later Scar Symmetry. Another niggling factor with the singing is that if you were a big fan of Scar Symmetry you will have heard the melodies all before. The guitar work whilst impressive in the lead department leaves a fair bit to be desired in the riffage aisles. Sticking to the overtly modern down tuned sound and churning out "modern" riffs, common of acts like Soilwork or Dark Age, and even reminiscent of metalcore in places. Take these factors, add almost zero in the way of bass, coupled with just over an hour run time and it's easy to see this could become quite the chore. Even Mikko Harkin's excellent keyboard skills weren't utilized to their potential, relegated to lame electronics. Oh, they ripped off Evergrey too, "Through Night - Kingdomed Gates" has an almost carbon copy of the riff from "Blinded". Unforgivable, yet unsurprising I'd find the most enjoyment from this track.
Whilst a lot better than the last Dark Age record this still isn't great, at best it's a decent album from a bunch of musicians capable of much better. If super clean watered down Melodic Death Metal is your poison, then get ready to fellate this album and proclaim it a masterpiece – because I assure you you'll love it. For the no bullshit types you know the routine, give this album a wide berth.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
When Christian left Scar Symmetry, I was disappointed because I'd finally got into them with the amazing "Holographic Universe". When I heard he was doing yet another "project", I thought, OK, I'll check it out. And how glad I am that I did.
At first listen, you'd be excused for thinking you're listening to a new Scar Symmetry album. Yet after a few more listens, you'll hear big differences. I guess the biggest difference is how much more lyric melody driven Solution .45 is. Lyric melody driven bands have some limitations such as being of risk of getting boring with the big chorus line and with no real music quality to back it up, getting tiresome of the whole album. Yet Solution .45 don't seem to have this problem with many of the instruments doing more than their fair share of backing up. However, it really is Christian who stands out and I think has out done himself on this album. He brilliantly combines his trademark mixture of melody and death growls.
It seems every track is oozing with killer melody after killer melody. One particular stand out is in "Gravitational Lensing". The chorus line may sound alright the first time but seriously gets better and better with every listen. "Through Night-Kingdomed Gates" backs up with more killer vocal lines. The title track "For Aeons Past" gives the melody a rest for bit, with Christian preferring the growl most of the track which is a nice change before "Lethean Tears" gives a nice break from the high evergy tracks. The lyrics on this track seem a bit more mature too, possibly being that Christian wrote them himself instead of guest lyricist Mikael Stanne.
The killer melody continues with another inspiring effort in "Bladed Vaults". It's when the album gets to "Clandestinity Now", I feel it really finds its only weak moment. Although a great track, I don't think they needed over 16 minutes to do it. A lot of the song I felt was a little unnecessary I thought they could've cut it down a little. Don't get me wrong I love long tracks, the length doesn't worry me as long as there is something to fill it out which I don't think this song does.
However, this misdemeanor does nothing to distract from the overall effectivness of the album and it's a solid release none the less. Hopefully this isn't just another of Christian's many side projects and maybe even takes this band on the road. However as with many other "super groups", I get the feeling this might be an unlikely thing. We can only keep our fingers crossed.
Hardly this album can be called a proper response to Christian Älvestam’s former band, Scar Symmetry, almost every “idea” presented here was properly and exhaustively expressed on Holographic Universe with which this album can really be compared, if with anything at all. Too many things evoke a feeling that this really could have been a new Scar Symmetry effort. Nonetheless it’s not just the same music over and over again, it’s an endeavour to create a new approach, to take a look from another perspective.
Perhaps this is the most successive effort of a vocalist that left a supergroup, such partings rarely bring any good neither to a band nor to a singer. Main composers still create stong music but can’t match their former glory with a new line-up and singer tries to join this or that project or release solo albums, which step even further away from the previous collaboration. This time the listeners appear to be a bit more lucky, the band (Scar Symmetry) didn’t sing its swansong and Christian Älvestam now presents something worthwhile as well. Despite he has many other projects besides Solution .45, most of them can’t interest the same broad sections of the public as Scar Symmetry can. Recently Christian, Jani Stefanovic & co. formed The Few Against Many band which is something different from oldschool Swedish melodic death metal of other projects like Miseration, Unmoored, Torchbearer and others, but Solution .45 appears to be the real deal at last.
Using all the experience gained in his former band Christian almost managed to create Holographic Universe 2. And it’s not just “not bad”, it’s devilishly good. The basis remains almost the same, with slight changes, though there’s not much energy typical for Scar Symmetry works, the preference is given to a more calm and unhurried structures. The main difference is about clean vocals which seem to be almost omnipresent, though their real share is approx. 50-60 percent. Christian’s cleans are something to adore, it might take some time to get used to them, but since you are in, there’s no return. Besides, not many albums of the sort can offer such amounts of clean singing. Due to a certain timbre of the voice the album turned out to be quite lyrical and nor modern riffs reminiscent of Evergrey neither growling parts can change this. And this is why this album is so unique. The vocals filled the melodic spaces that are almost obligatory in this style since its birth given with In Flames’ Reroute to Remain and Soundtrack to Your Escape works. Despite the guitar work is really familiar, it’s almost background most of the time, because this album is dominated by vocals. At its zenith shines the ballad Lethean Tears, which is not something even close to the abovementioned In Flames and their ballads like Metaphor, Evil In A Closet or The Chosen Pessimist, with their jellylike shapes flowing over a turbid glass. This one creates a vision of contemplating fragile azalea petals scatter over a crystal slab. This feeling runs through the whole album, it’s really beautiful.
Mikko Härkin, who left the band shortly after the album was done, also contributed to it a lot, that’s why one can’t say it’s just singer’s album. And let’s say that charming intro tune of Into Shadow shows that guitars still have something to say as well.
Subtle progressive touches didn’t affect the result much, neither introducing much diversity nor bringing any significant dissonance. Just maybe Clandestinity Now could have been more interesting if not split up into several almost non-coherent parts, other songs maintain their identity pretty well and occasional rhytm shifts don’t change their general mood.
Hopefully Christian won’t consider this band as “yet another project”, it deserves a lot more time and attention with all its potential.
Unfortunately/fortunately this album has been leaked before its final release later in the month. No matter, lets not get caught up in crap, let us review one of the most anticipated super-group releases in Swedens metal history. Not to mention super-groups are Sweden's speciality. Just sayin'
When I heard front-man Christian Älvestam left Scar Symmetry, I almost cried. My feelings changed, however, when I heard he was teaming up with half of Miseration and Dark Tranquility's Mikael Stanne was writting the lyrics to 'For Aeons Past.' Can this album be any more epic? Yes. You see, what Scar Symmetry and Miseration were lacking in thier songs was a heart/spirit/soul in their lyrics. Stanne's lyrics make this spirit evident. Enough history, to the review.
Firstly, the vocals, Christian Älvestam. Älvestam's singing in the past (songs like Nuclear Blast All-Stars 'The Overshadowing') was often bland, lifeless. Too angry or too soft. There was no balance or middle. When I heard all the teaser's off the album, the released singles, I was still hesitant. But all of the listening to the songs could not prepare me for the epic intro that was on "The Close Beyond". His lyrics seem more balanced, more toned... Darker. And I speak for every fan of melo-death fan when I say I like this. When you get such an upbeat song (see; "Gravtational Lensing", "Bladed Vaults") Älvestam can change the entire tempo, into something so much more. You've got to love that. The vocals come into a class of thier own in this album.
Rolf Pilve on drums. Miseration master. As a drummer myself, I find little details in a normal beat and become easily impressed. There are no normal beats in For Aeons Past. Rolf is an incredible drummer. From his elegant blast, to the radical triggered kick beats, this guy's got serious talent. His use of the softer cymbals, comprised with overpowering snare work, is a definant stand-out on this album. One song, however, stands out among others. As it should. "Clandestinity Now" is the epic on the album. The tenth and final song, unless "Spirit Side Dreaming" in multiple bonus'. From the 6:50 mark, there is the BEST FILL I've heard on any of Pilve's work. Overall, Pilve's drumming remains at a high standard.
Jani Stefanović and Tom Gardiner on guitars. Two very talent guitarist's. Stefanović especially, shows true talent. In almost every song, there is a very impressive solo or guitar fill of some sort. Yet, Gardiner's talents should not go unnoticed. Impressive riffs and meaty tones. Highly-sound guitar work on this album then. For Aeons Past proves another pro onto the list of many. (See "Clandestinity Now" and "Wirethrone" for serious solos).
Anders Edlund on bass. Unfortunately, like 70% of todays modern metal, it's virtually non-existant. There are small parts in the album where you can hear some good bass points, but its fairly translucent. Bass proves to be more important than you may think, it gives deep throat to an otherwise empty song. But, the other guitars prove to be too strong.
Mikko Härkin on keyboards. Okay, so he left the band before the album was released but, it's still there. Frankly, I don't care about techno-shit on a metal album. It becomes too much like a Scar Symmetry effort. That's not bad, just Älvestam stated he didn't want to make a Scar Symmetry re-make. Keyboards add flavour, just It's a bit disgusting.
If you could some up this album in two words, it would be; "Clandestinity Now". Just listen to this 16 minute epic and be overwhelmed with brilliance. There are few negatives on this album, so when it's released; go and buy it. If not, you're missing out on an incredible effort, and something that people everywhere will get into. No wonder it's Sweden's best export.