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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.