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I'm new to Thousand Year War. I haven't heard their demo, or their EP, but I heard about them from a friend and decided to check them out. I'm really glad I did. I've never been a big fan of melodic death metal - in fact, the only melodic death metal band I have bought albums from is Kalmah. But listening to this, I find it a worthwhile album that I would happily get.
The music itself isn't incredible complex, and not innovative at all. This is about as classic melodic death metal as you can get, but don't let that turn you off: this is still really good. Like a lot of melodic death metal bands, the highlight of the album is by far the riffs. Especially in songs like No Gods, No Masters and Defiance, along with the title track, the riffs make the songs. The riffs aren't all that difficult, but they sound really great and strong. The riffs are extremely memorable and are played at a medium tempo, like most melodic death metal bands. The riffs are really similar to how Amon Amarth riffs are executed, and on par with the beast viking metal band. Solos are rare, and aren't that great, but the riffs more than make up for that.
Most of the album is a medium paced tempo, but in some songs, most notably Defiance, the drums speed it up. The drummer does a really nice job of keeping rythm, although I feel he could have done some more interesting things on the album. With that said, the guitars are the main highlight of the band, so maybe they didn't want to take away from the riffs.
The vocals switch off from a semi-high pitched growl to a low pitched, almost guttural growl. He switches back and forth from these two voices, usually using the semi-high pitched voice. The vocals were very impressive. He's a great growler, and to be able to do drastically different growling styles well is indeed impressive. I couldn't ask for better vocals, which is a complaint I have for a lot of bands.
The bass follows the guitar in every track except in the middle of the title track, where it strays off a little. I took off 10 points for that. I know it's somewhat harsh, but I really like my bass. I think with more bass this album would be one of the best of this year: hell, it's already in my top ten. If their next record includes more bass, they may be able to rival the greats of the genre like Amon Amarth and Kalmah.
This album isn't innovative or complex, but it's damned good. A fresh new band with a really strong debut is great. I think great things will come from Thousand Year War.