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Not the Last Confession of Its Evil, Godless Kind - 88%

bayern, August 14th, 2017

Cemetary are one of the pleiad of bands whose career has been either blessed or cursed, depending on the point-of-view, by the “gargantuan masterpiece” phenomenon; in other words, one album that has been universally considered their magnum opus, considerably diminishing the contribution made by the other entries from their discography, sometimes to the point of total disregard. “Godless Beauty” (I’m yet to come across someone who doesn’t like this album) towers so high above the rest that it’s not easy to view the other albums when stood against it. The best thing to do in this case is to pretend that this album doesn’t exist (it actually works) which automatically makes the other works shine all in their own way…

“Godless Beauty” was the last place where the band retained some of their death metal roots as “Black Vanity” a few months later was already an exemplary gothic doom metal opus. A promising new turn provided that any subsequent doom/death-peppered album was going to be considered a flop compared to the “godless” one. “Sundown” was a more dynamic, livelier affair the doom side of the equation hanging in the balance a bit, but was another plus in the guys’ repertoire who simply never put a foot wrong throughout their existence. The album reviewed here is another testimony for that although many critics and fans alike crucified it upon release due to its immediacy and straight-forwardness (it’s only 28.5-min long), and the overtly simplistic execution. Cemetary have never been the most complex progressive metal formation on the planet, but here the band had relaxed to some extent, yes, but in a still compelling, arguably more captivating manner.

The (un)pretentious tone is set by “Forever” which comes as a more abrasive, metallized cross between The Sisters of Mercy’s “Doctor Jeep” and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” the dark spot being the supposed chorus where Mathias Lodmalm abandons the slightly annoying synthesized vocals for the sake of a deep sorrowful baritone, this moment followed by a superb doomy, keyboard-driven passage, an absolute gem which also closes the whole song. “Caress the Damned” will “caress” everyone with its morose gothic/doom rhythms, a track Paradise Lost would be very happy to have in their discography, on “Draconian Times” in particular; watch out for the brilliant dynamic accumulation in the second half, and another one of those magnificent lamentable choruses. “So Sad Your Sorrow” is a short steam-rolling piece of seismic gothic doominess despite the brisk riffage and the bouncy rhythm-section, the wa-wa leads giving it a nice archaic, also psychedelic flavour. “1213- Trancegalactica” has a great alluring, atmospheric intro with seductive Oriental overtones which grows into a wall of formidable heavy riffs, Lodmalm sounding more sinister and more intimidating before the Oriental motifs reappear to alleviate the unbearable tension. “Twin Reactor” is a psychedelic doomy saga with echoes of early Black Sabbath and Hawkwind, a surprisingly uplifting number despite the prolonged, dirgy slow motion. “Fields of Fire” is a super-infectious faster-paced cut with a nice melodic deviation and a couple of really stylish leads, preceding the officiant, academic tone of “One Burning Cut”, a balladic melancholic elegy Lodmalm’s hypnotic semi-declamatory baritone merging with the pensive idyllic musical scenery. All the way to “Carbon Heart” which jarring jumpy riffs are a requisite nod to the band’s last two instalments, gothic metal at its catchiest and most affirmative, the keyboards aptly assisting the guitars in a soft, unobtrusive way.

Yes, it’s less than half an hour, this “last confession”, but it nicely captures the essence of the gothic/doom metal movement in its entirety only missing on the death metal link from the guys’ beginnings, but that one was already buried deep by 1997, and there was hardly any need of its involvement. The band dexterously summed up all that gothic metal had to offer by the late-90’s as there were hardly too many volunteers at the time to do that having in mind that Paradise Lost were already looking askance at the metal world as evident from “One Second”, and Lacuna Coil were merely warming up for a good start of their career.

These fairly convincing “confessions” weren’t the last ones the guys made, though. Lodmalm tried to write a new fresh chapter from the Cemetary saga, only under a different name, Sundown, but the two albums that saw the light of day as this incarnation were lame electronic, keyboard-drawn gothic/wave teasers that largely delineated the fanbase. After a lengthy 8-year hiatus he returned to his old love, already turned into a one-man army by that time, and hit with “Phantasma”, a decent albeit hardly exceptional swansong to the man’s meanderings through the metal “jungle” which also included one stunt under the Cemetary 1213 moniker (one album, “The Beast Divine”, 2000). Sundowns, cemetaries, confessions… a lot of things the audience saw from these purveyors, or rather purveyor, of the metal idea who refused for a long time to settle for the afterlife in a graveyard somewhere, buried deep. The Cemetary “corpse” has stopped kicking which I personally find hard to believe; it hasn’t made its last confession yet…

The beast is bound to end us all - 60%

TowardsMorthond, August 28th, 2012

Last Confessions marks the final recording from Cemetary before vocalist/guitarist Mathias Lodmalm shifted his priority to his new project, Sundown. At twenty-eight minutes and eight songs, and no lyrics or credits in the booklet, the album feels incomplete and carelessly constructed. The material functions within the same musical realm of straightforward gothic metal/rock as previous efforts, yet with a dirtier, heavier sound.

"The closer that you crawl
Just the further I will fall
Can’t keep me from dying
Can’t save me at all"

The majority of these songs are up‑tempo rockers laced with the band’s familiar dark atmospheres and melodies. The opening pair of "Forever" and "Caress The Damned" get the disc off to a storming start, with the latter in particular one of the best moments in the band’s history. Both are fantastic dark metal/rock songs full of atmosphere and emotion, fueled by powerful rhythms, glistening melodies, burning riffs, and engaging vocals. "Fields of Fire" is another highlight, a driving midnight rocker with an interesting whisper effect on the vocals that gives the track a ghostly aura. "Carbon Heart" sounds like a Sundown leftover, as its pattern reflects that album’s character of design, though its quicker pace makes it a better fit for this album. These four songs are the best the album has to offer. The remaining four range from decent (the psychedelically tinged space rocker "1213 Trancegalactica") to awful ("One Burning Night" features dreadfully uninspired vocals by Lodmalm over dull slow‑churning blues‑rock). Lodmalm would resurrect Cemetary a few years later with an all‑new line‑up, but at the time Last Confessions felt like a rushed and ultimately disappointing send‑off for one of the most underrated bands of the gothic/doom metal genre.