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Refined brutal complexity - 96%

Pestbesmittad, March 21st, 2008

Ahhh, pure bliss! Another totally mind-blowing release of complex yet brutal death metal from Atrocity. “Todessehnsucht” sees the band expand their early style a bit with the inclusion of classical instruments and opera singers for some parts of the album. This of course makes me think of e.g. Celtic Frost, who on “To Mega Therion” and “Into the Pandemonium” fused metal with classical elements. I’d say Atrocity took this part of Celtic Frost’s legacy and applied it to their own music. There’s no need to worry for those death metallists who dislike such influences though, as the classical influences aren’t used to the extent that they’d water down the death metal essence.

In general the tracks on “Todessehnsucht” are very technical with tons of different riffs and melodies plus at times seemingly inaccessible structures due to the complex arrangements. It took much longer for me to get into this album than it took to get into “Hallucinations”, at times I felt like this was just too technical and without any kind of catchiness. The band have no doubt been extremely ambitious when composing the music and they’ve also added heavy doom passages to some of the tracks. Today I consider this to be one of the best technical/progressive death metal albums along with “Hallucinations” and stuff by bands such as Atheist, At the Gates and latter era Death. The playing is very tight and the band is able to deliver these challenging songs with precision. Especially drummer Michael Schwarz deserves a mention.

The title track starts in a bombastic way with classical instruments playing one of its riffs. Soon the guitars and the drums join the classical instruments, all playing this riff in unison, sounds good! This track is a rather short one (well, almost four minutes actually but it feels shorter), serving as an introductory piece to the album. It also features a short verse, narrated by Alex. “Godless Years” is where the technical death metal mayhem really starts: complicated drum patterns (ranging from jazz influenced beats to blastbeats) and arrangements, technical riffing & melodies and sudden clean guitar breaks. All this is then crowned by Alex’s brutal growls. “Unspoken Names“ is the perfect combination of brutal blasting death metal and some very detailed guitar and drum work during the slower parts of the track. “Defiance” starts with a good heavy melodic riff and some complex drum fills, after which it goes straight into technical death metal heaven with complex guitar melodies and rhythms, plus some jazzy parts as well as blastbeats.

“Introduction” is a short track performed by the classical orchestra & choir and it introduces “Sky Turned Red”, a heavy and almost doomy, yet still very technical track. There are a lot of breaks and rhythm changes here as well, especially the beginning gives Atheist a good run for their money. The first verse is totally uncatchy due to the extreme technicality of the music, whereas the chorus is simple and doomy. During the chorus the opera singers can be heard as they sing together with Alex. My complaint here is that I think the opera singers should have been mixed a bit louder, the chorus would’ve sounded even more grand then. The same goes for the choir parts on “A Prison Called Earth”.

With the exception of the title track and its reprise, only “Triumph at Dawn” and “Necropolis” can be said to be relatively straightforward in structure, yet also these two tracks are more complex than your “average death metal song”. My version of this album closes with a brilliant cover of Death’s “Archangel”, a song featured e.g. on the “Infernal Death” demo. Death never re-recorded this song for any of their albums and that’s why it’s great to hear this professional re-recording. The opening riff alone is something to kill for and to hear it with a heavy studio production always gives me a kick. With “Todessehnsucht” Atrocity reached the pinnacle of their early death metal style.