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Just increase the brutality! I'll say this right now: This is not "The Machinery of Oblivion" part 2. This is more like a sequel of a great book. It's different enough to be respected in it's own right, but you'll recognize the same elements at work.
What I love about these guys, like I mentioned in my review of their debut, is their depth. Every member is very talented, and should be paid individual attention to understand the scope of the top-notch musicianship that is present in their previous album, this, and (hopefully) their future releases.
What's changed in the two years between their debut and this album? Well, like I said in my first sentence, the brutality has been increased.
Kasper has progressed leaps and bounds in these two years and his death growls are WAY more fearsome than they were on the debut. He really put his all into this album, and it shows. Only one note of contention, he doesn't use his clean vocals at all this time around.
Flemming C. Lund is still playing like the demigod that he is, he manages to shred and yet still brings out so much emotion with his playing. I'm a guitarist, and Flemming's style of playing is this pinnacle that I hope to reach some time before I die. It's a shame he is such an unknown in the metal world. He deserves as much fame as Jeff Loomis or Michael Romeo. He really should put out an instructional DVD, I know I'd buy it. His style of playing remains the same, though he has a more aggressive edge on this album. This is best exemplified by "The Reaping Revengence."
Morten Løwe Sørensen is a little more technical on this album, his precision seems to have increased somehow in such a short time! He probably eats and sleeps at his drum kit to have such skill at such a young age! From the fantastic fills and double-bass on "Sanctity of Allegiance" to the awe-inspiring blast beats on "Death Is Imminent" and "The Serpent Tower," his playing should inspire generations of drummers to come.
Boris Tandrup is still unhearable, so I can't say much about him. It feels like a huge mistake that all the other members are so talented, and the bassist can't show his skills as well.
One other thing that they changed with this release was the keyboards. Previously they were more of a futuristic atmosphere, done by producer extraordinaire Jacob Hansen. This time, the keys feel like they have been lifted straight from a Dimmu Borgir album. The keys are just EPIC. The way the album starts, with the symphonic entry on "Death Is Imminent" to the fading piano lines of "Sanctity of Allegiance" is just grand. I mean, I must have heard SoA around six times just for the piano. Please direct your applause to Kim Olesen from Danish power/prog band Anubis Gate who really added a fantastic touch to this already excellent album. I hope that on the third album they use Morten Sandager from Mercenary to do the keyboards, he really could bring a balance between the futuristic/epic atmosphere these guys invoke.
In short, this is a follow up you should own. I mean, it feels so different, and yet it's the same band that gave us "The Machinery of Oblivion." Hopefully the next one will be their "Master of Puppets" and direct more attention to this amazing, and yet unknown band.