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Twilight In My Kingdom Cold - 86%

OzzyApu, June 14th, 2007

Who knew Immortal could be beaten on the frostbitten scale? Catamenia is pretty much the epitome of ice-cold black metal, playing a unique form of the genre with precision and themes of winter, nature, and darkness. Their style strays from the typically dreadful production and constant riffage most bands claim time and time again. It may be hard to understand, but these Finns instead opt for a tight, melodic black metal sound that actually drifts into melodic death metal territory on occasion – vocally and musically. While it may remain questionable between vocalists, longtime (now former) vocalist Mika Tönning shares a distinct voice with Eternal Tears of Sorrow’s Altti Veteläinen. Both men hold the title for throaty shrieks and, in short instances for Mika, cavernous, bellowing growls (“Burning Aura” and “Dreams of Winterland” for example).

When I first heard this record, I was amazed at the actual effort the group endured in refining their sound as best as their budget and equipment at hand enabled them. At a decent listening volume, the lead guitar is completely audible, the rhythm guitar (although descending in the mix of instruments, except on “Pimeä Yö”) hangs about , and our delightful battery (drums) stays consistent throughout each song, remaining quite apparent and hallowed compared to most of the genre’s drumming. Thank Timo Lehtinen for his bass duties, which are clear at certain moments like in the “Awake In Dark,” “Forest Enthroned,” and “Pimeä Yö,” but otherwise supporting the tone by filling gaps and creating a deeper atmosphere.

Likewise, Catamenia’s creates a rather chilling atmosphere through keyboard exploitation and, if best put, by “abusing” the lead guitar. The keyboards surely do not take all the credit for any song, but when I mention “abusing” the lead guitar, I mean that while many bands tend to jot a riff down as a plain riff, Riku Hopeakoski’s riffs are pretty much what make the tracks sound the way they do. As messed up as that may seem, just ponder: people recognize Catamenia’s library solely because of the riffs laid down by Riku – everything else (vocals, keyboard, drumming) supports these riffs and, when the opportunity strikes, solos. Infact, solos aren’t even abundant or as thoroughly memorable as the melody throughout the rest of its respective track. Proof of this lolls seminal tracks like “Dreams of Winterland,” “Forest Enthroned,” “Song of the Nightbird,” “Child of Sunset,” and undeniably the finest track on here, “Pimeä Yö.”

For a debut, the band politely enlisted 14 tracks, though the catch was that they weren’t going to be very long. The album does clock nearly 47 minutes, though the trip seems shorter. Due to track lengths (of which only “Pimeä Yö” exceeds 4 minutes), every song undoubtly ends too quickly. The band fixed this problem with later releases, but somehow this album passes with this procedure, as most of the songs carry an unforgettable tune. Such a remarkable melody is perfected through keyboard exercise, which thankfully isn’t abused and only takes over on certain tracks that needed to fit the theme and atmosphere, such as “Freezing Winds of North” and “Dreams of Winterland.” Unsurprised, acoustics are present as well, yet they still sound distinct in black metal, particularly since the band plays a very dissimilar style.

By scanning their album covers, anyone with eyes and a brain that works grasps the fact that this band is obsessed with wolves. Everyone wants a wolf it knew not to attack its master, just like good black metal. That’s it folks, this album fulfills that promise. It will never attack you and will trail by your side, accompanying every adventure you undertake. Through the dark, desolate, damn freezing northern abyss to the sandy, sun scorched beaches of Italy where woman glisten and wait for men like us to sweep them off their towels, this album will never ditch you. C’mon guys, not even Abbath is capable of that.