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This band is growing on me more and more, so here I am to do another full-length. The title of this one is Armageddon March Eternal (Symphonies of Slit Wrists), which isn't exactly out of place with the other names that have been used for TPH's albums. The sound isn't either, but I'm glad to note that most of this album is more akin to what I heard on In Hora Mortis Nostrae than their latest material.
Again, the music doesn't have such a heavy industrial centring to it. If anything it's more like a melodic death metal album, albeit with a strong leaning towards the death elements. For the most part Armageddon March Eternal is pummeling and powerful, but there's always a subtle melody here or there, be it a neat little hook or some quiet keyboards in the background. It's a nice blend that works well, but I can't help feeling that the music worked better when the riffing was the key. While the patterns here are far from being boring, it's definitely not as interesting as it is on In Hora Mortis Nostrae. The few moments of inspiration are pretty awe-inspiring, but there are a large number of riffs and chugs in there for no real reason. Maybe if other things were going on then I'd appreciate it, but when it's just fast and hard chugging combined with Jörgen's vocal lines it begins to feel more like a brutal death band than the creative genius that I know this band can provide.
So with the riffing dissolving into uninspired chugs, it's up to the keyboards to revive the band. And by god, Lord K. Philipson totally redeems the entire band with his playing. The more delicate sections on In Hora Mortis Nostrae were spectacular, but there's something about them on this one that really gives me goosebumps. Perhaps it's because I anticipate them that much more following some rather lacklustre sections, but whatever the case they bring the song from being merely average to something incredible. Thankfully these sections don't limit themselves strictly to being just a minute or two here or there, and they do appear quite regularly in some instances.
Vocals are pretty much as you'd expect as far as Jörgen's growls go, powerful and sounding as if he's been possessed by Satan, but also slightly overdone in that respect and a bit too brutal for my liking. Jonna, meanwhile, is almost the complete antithesis of Jörgen. She could probably lull me into doing her every bidding, her voice is just that hypnotic. There's also a special kind of connection between the two styles that works incredibly well, far more than with any of the other female singers that The Project Hate have had on their albums. Something about the contrast between the delicate cleans and the incredibly harsh growls just works, something that you don't get when the cleans are more powerful. The band simply aren't the same without her.
Overall, I'd say this album was better than The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda, but falls short of In Hora Mortis Nostrae. For me, the main factors that saved it from mediocrity were the keyboard and Jonna's vocals, and there were several periods where I did wonder exactly why I was listening to it. After a few listens though it grows on you (like all TPH albums), and as a whole it works very well. Not the easiest album to start with to get an idea of the band, but worth seeking out once you've listened to a couple of others.
So this is my first full-length from TPH. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I’d head the opening track before (At the Entrance to Hell’s Unholy Fires), and instantly loved it, but one song is never a guarantee. Well, I have to say the rest of the album lives up to it.
The first aspect is the split of 3 styles. They have the standard mix of melodic with the very heavy death metal, but I noticed some techno/industrial influences as well (especially in the drumming). They even had a few techno remixes of “At the Entrance…”, which were surprisingly good. Now, onto the instruments…
The guitars were excellent. Well-played and well thought-out all the way through. They keep your interest, from the heavy, chugging riffs, to the softer leads. I love the guitar tone, it’s dirty without being too dirty, and it really fits the music all over. Even the softer parts were perfect. I noticed some nice effects all over (namely, on Resurrected for Massive Torture). He also wrote riffs for many emotions, from very aggressive to very sad and melancholy.
The bass, for once, I could hear fairly well! It’s a very…boing-ey sound, somehow, and it’s excellently played. Interestingly enough, it’s played by the bassist for Evergrey! The 2 bands play very different music, but he does an excellent job here.
The drums are very well executed. They are programmed, although this works as an advantage (unlike most programmed drums). It allows for several sounds to fit each kind of music. Most noticeable is the difference between the “metal” sound and the “techno” sound. Nice addition.
Now, for the highlight of the album, are the vocals. There are two singers, so I’ll do one at a time.
First, I’ll cover the growls. All I can say is ...wow. Jorgen is one hell of a growler! Heavy, brutal, thick, and aggressive, these are some of the best I’ve ever heard! And that’s saying something. He can go VERY deep (Resurrected for Massive Torture), but he usually uses a nice mid-level growl (best shown on At the Entrance…) with some black-metally high growls thrown in. They actually had 17 backing growlers on one song…not that he needs it. Excellent performance.
Then, the female singer. Again, wow. This girl has such an amazing range on her voice, you’ll think there’s 3 people singing! She uses a deep-ish, spoken word type of voice a bit, it adds a nice effect to parts. Her other voices are the real highlight. She has an excellent soft voice, with a hint of opera-type vocals at parts. It’s really haunting, and sends shivers up my spine at times. Her next voice is more projected, a bit stronger, and still amazing. She sounds literally horny while singing this way. Considering the lyrics (“I yearn for Bloodshed, Father oh, I yearn”), it sounds really freaky. She was compared to Amy Lee (by Dan Swano, no less), although that’s an understatement. To quote someone on the TPH forum, she can make Amy Lee sound like Jabba the Hutt!
I’ll mention the programmed stuff, as well. They used MIDI keyboards and violin/atmospheric parts, and choirs. It gives a nice effect, or ambience to a lot of areas. Very well done here as well.
Overall, this is a true masterpiece of metal. Nearly everything about it is perfect. In the sense that this is probably my 2nd favorite album of the year, and could easily make it onto my top 10 of all time. It’s THAT damn good.
This has to be one of my favorite albums of all time, these musicians are absolutely amazing. This is definitely my new favorite band, this CD has not left my player. I have changed the other 4, but not this one.
The album starts you off with instantaneous death metal. No lead up, no intro, just heavy guitars playing a somewhat catchy riff and some very growly death vox. The techno breaks do a nice job of keeping the heaviness from becoming mundane or overbearing without making the music sound industrial. Some very DnB sounding break beats give some flavor, as well as Jo's singing. The way the clean female vocals intertwine with Lord K's vox is very pleasing to the ear, not to mention almost operettic. A bit of the album sounds similar but never gets repetitive. They bring the tempo down a little on Godslaughtering Murder Machine, but I don't think there's anything on this album that would qualify as a ballad. It never hits Opeth's Damnation feel. One of the other things I love about this album is the almost sarcastic names of some of the songs...Resurrected For Massive Torture, We Couldn't be Farther from the Truce, etc. Overall I would give this album a 100, but I might have to eat it if they put out something better, which is entirely possible