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No one sounds like WUTHERING HEIGHTS. And don’t think I don’t know how big a call that is. This is the band, after all, that has a vocalist that sounds more like Dio than Dio does. Or that every one of their releases comes complete with an OBI strip of sorts crapping on about how the album’s for fans of BLIND GUARDIAN or SYMPHONY X or the like. Well forget it. The truth is they’re practically untouchable. Here’s why.
Erik Ravn writes everything. Or I should say he rewrites everything. Before this album he was the only one that came close to giving ELVENKING a run for their money in the folk department. And when it came to prog – he simply left the building while every other prog band hung around to look up the word “chorus” in the dictionary.
Within a minute of throwing ‘The Shadow Cabinet’ on you’ll know this is a songwriter at the height of his powers. Call it mature. Call it grown up. But nothing will prepare you for how catchy, melodramatic and powerful this release is. The lyrics alone would put most metal bands to shame. Songs like “Demon Desire” seem straightforward enough at first glance. This one’s about lust, but no eighties cock-rock throwback here. The raw pain of animal desire is set to a double kick speed metal outburst that leads straight into a collection of verses set to a metal gallop on their way to a chorus that stabs. That’s right – stabs.
The thinking man’s metal tone continues with “Beautifool”. The way cool song title is just the beginning for this meditation on the ugliness of beauty. Trust me it works. As do “The Raven” and “Faith”. All manage to carve something out of power, speed, folk or prog to produce pummeling choruses that separates desperate verses with racing bridges that most other bands would kill to have as a chorus on the opening track of their album made up of fillers.
The home stretch is generally where bands phone it in, but think again is the motto of songs like “Snow” (a sequel to “Faith”) and “I Shall Not Yield” – each equipped with a deceptively low key intro that transforms into yet another volcanic eruption of speed metal with enough melody to drown whole genres. And “Carpe Noctem – Seize the Night” rounds things off by toying between speed and mid-pace metal just long enough to throw up an anthem that’s got speed ticket written all over it if you’re out driving.
Now that’s where the album normally ends unless you pick up the bonus track edition. Which is what you’re going to do, or you won’t get “Midnight Song”. It’s equal to anything on the album. That’s not just saying something. That’s saying you know what to do.