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No Wolf? Then Die - 22%

OzzyApu, January 1st, 2013

Coming back from a lackluster following to the band's best album, Catamenia march on without a keyboardist to fill in the empty holes where the atmosphere and alluring keys used to plug. However, they learned from some of their mistakes and came back with an album that's surprisingly elegant in leadwork. That's the strongest point to make, along with the balanced production returning to ensure proper mixing between instruments and vocalists. This doesn't sound like a scratchy mess anymore, which is a big plus to the cohesiveness that was sorely missing on the last album. The problem is that the band is further in a melodic death metal rut.

A melodic death band like Noumena from Finland are great with their exquisite leads, catchy choruses, burley harsh vocals, and humble cleans. Catamenia at this point want to replicate that sound, but their version of it doesn't have the same creativity as a band like Noumena. Furthermore, the Kalmah-esque prowess that lifted the band to new heights on Winternight Tragedies and Location: COLD don't exist anymore. They're replaced by leads that are more along the lines of late '90s era In Flames, or basically lots of influence taken from Gothenburg melodic death. For songs like "Blood Trails," which benefit from being an interesting composition with fresh energy, this is some kind of revival for the band's musical passion.

Lead guitarist and main member Riku Hopeakoski was the shit on Location: COLD, but his harmonic style doesn't lift this album above meandering, disingenuous melodic death. The catchiness employed by his work and that frigid guitar tone is pleasant like on "Quantity Of Sadness" and "Post Mortem," but at this point they're fluffy and lack most of the bite that made Catamenia's melodic black metal vicious. The production is clear and loud, of course, as are the bass grumbles trailing under the guitars, but what of it? The blasting from the drums moves over to a more traditional approach of pacekeeping without thoughtful patterns.

Unlike "Blood Trails," the rest of the album doesn't have any motivation or inventive reserves. Even the vocals don't steer the band away from this pitfall, as they're just as flimsy and detached. There is no crunch or authority in either the screams or puffy growls. Even the cleans of Vähäkuopus are awkward and passionless compared to Location: COLD, where they were impeccable. What Cavalcade ends up being is a clone of Norther, a Finnish band that at best were good power metal-esque melodic death that turned into an unlistenable, marketable breed of that same sound. Catamenia haven't stooped that low, but they're in the territory that's right next to that ultimate low.

Catamenia without a wolf - Cavalcade - 80%

All_In_Vain, November 22nd, 2010

Catamenia for me is another one of those bands that in every album keeps your interest up until the end and every release has something new to offer. This one is no exception. When you listen to Halls of Frozen North and this right after, I bet you my head that you wouldn't recognize them as a same band.

But enough of that and let's get to the actual album. Even though it's very different from their other albums, it still has that Catamenia-feeling. Music is not that fast anymore, which in my opinion is a bad thing for them. Riffs are really good, one of the best I've heard in a while and you can actually hear the bass. Drumming is also solid and as I said before, a bit slower... in a bad way. Then we have the vocals, well, three of them: high screams that they are known for, deep, and I mean deep growls and also cleans that they have added in their latest releases more and more. Screams are great, the best of the three. Growls are very nice too, maybe a bit out of the place in sometimes. Cleans are also very good, but there are maybe a bit too much of them. Lyrics don't focus so much on the killing coldness of the north like they used to, but mainly in dark themes.

In the end, this is a very good release, but still falls off too much for me. Has it's moments, plenty of them, but mainly disappointed me coming out from their other albums.

Recommended tracks: Blood Trails, Cavalcade, A Callous Mind, Angry Again (a very nice little treat here).

Nope. Sorry. - 30%

doomknocker, May 28th, 2010

Melodic metal from Finland…can’t say I’d ever heard THAT concept before. But before I get all snarky and piss-headed I have to say that there’s nothing wrong with the Finnish take on the style (for the most part), as the likes of KALMAH, ENSIFERUM and WINTERSUN are able to project the melodic sound into something that’s so damned good you really have to wonder what’s in the water in that country. Catchiness, brutality, and an ass-load of staying power has been the order of the day with those groups, and when it came down to checking out yet another group of their ilk I took to this like a duck to bread.

So how do things work in the CATAMENIA world? Let’s find out…

The way things look, at least on my end, the sound has that twinge of Finnish-ness about it, but the overall approach is rather plodding and unmemorable. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a definitive lack of hooks, interestingness, and anything in between that would make for a fanciful listen. Instead, this listener ended up partaking in mid-tempo “rockers” that relied mostly on simplistic, chunky riffs, one-two punch drum work (with only a few flashes of black-beaty goodness), only a dash of melody and some rather confused-sounding vocal work (the guy doesn’t seem to know if he wants to sing, rasp, or growl) that all come together in a way that’s better than your local bar band in terms of ability, but not by much. There are many things that would be of beneficence to this group; up the tempo into something more interesting, find that necessary hook to get the listeners’ attention, and just try your best to make the whole damned thing MEMORABLE, removing that compelling need to skip to the next track halfway through (which happened on my end more than once). I’m sure there’s a fan base for this sort of thing (hell, there’s a fan base for EVERYTHING in this world…), but I’d have to say that I wouldn’t be considered one of its newest converts, as the likes of “Cavalcade”, “Silence”, and “Quantity of Sadness” aren’t able to provide the musical necessities as brightly as it should’ve. Oh well.

In the end I can’t say I liked the latest CATAMENIA. While there are a few good ideas to work with, the morass of mediocrity is a little too thick to cut through. Best left to those who’ve followed them from the get-go, but for the rest of us, there’re better acts to enjoy.

Catamenia - Cavalcade - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, March 2nd, 2010

You always have to wonder about bands like the winter-obsessed Finns Catamenia, wonder why on the eve of release of their 9th studio album in a 15-year career they have never made major shockwaves with the amount of releases that they have. Due to this fact I am only mildly acquainted with their back catalogue in the run-up to reviewing "Cavalcade"; a point in itself considering that given how closely I keep in touch with the metal world I should know them better by now.

"Cavalcade" as an album is essentially a highly melodic and catchy run through of the most Scandic elements of extreme metal, with mid-era In Flames the strongest reference point in a style best described as the oxymoron 'easy listening extreme metal'. Against 2005's "Winternight Tragedies", the album with which I can offer the greatest comparison, Catamenia have softened in the vocal department with a greater mix of clean, passionate vocals contrasting against the mid-level screams and growls, to create songs like the title track and "Post Mortem" which symptomise an album largely prosaic and static in song construction and performance.

That is not to say what Catamenia have done on "Cavalcade" isn't enjoyable; just that if you are looking for a challenging or properly extreme metal listen this is not the album for you. The standard song structures present are repeated across the first six songs, all of which fall between 4.20 - 4.59 long displaying a strong consistency in style, before "The Vulture's Feast" slows things down for a chorus sing-along in a manner reminiscent of every song on the album. And therein lies the crucial point for anyone approaching "Cavalcade", new or well-versed with Catamenia: it feels much of the template of each song is directly built around the hum-along chorus, taking "A Callous Mind" as an example. None of these moments are shit insipid excuses for a melody like many of today's biggest metal bands, but I feel that they are indeed frequent and strong enough to be too much for many a metalhead to take, crossing that fine line between a deployment of many a good melody against utilising sweet sing-along chorusses for the sake of it.

In the end, this is an album some people will love, while others will be totally nonplussed. Given it's decently likable nature and the fact I do not remember having seen Catamenia's name on too many a festival line-up over recent years, "Cavalcade" is certainly an album that deserves some decent tour backing and is ready built to instantly appeal to an audience waiting for it's combination of Scandic metal and pleasant catchy hooks.

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