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Serviceable melodic death - 65%

Sanguine_Censure, March 20th, 2008

Despite a five-year hiatus between the band's debut and this second full-length release, Coram Lethe hardly appears to have suffered from the drought. That isn't to say there has been a great deal of improvement, however; indeed, despite the changes in the band's sound and style, the overall presentation is much the same.

As guitarist Leonard Fusi's brainchild, Coram Lethe was intended to serve as an outlet for a more atmospheric, symphonic outfit than his previous efforts. In this respect, the band has succeeded greatly, as "The Gates of Oblivion" teems with strings, brass, choral efforts, and enough synth to make the listener wonder exactly why a keyboardist has not been added as a permanent member. Fiendishly catchy riffs and emotive solos are offset by gentle, almost delicate passages of violins and the occasional odd tuba. Vocalist Mirco Borghini lends his own efforts to the burgeoning symphony, employing everything from a (surprisingly) intelligible traditional death style to his own natural rasp to a sparingly-used singing voice that is not unpleasant, if not exactly note-perfect.

Despite its orchestral trappings, however, "The Gates of Oblivion" manages to stumble in all the wrong places. Fusi's ear-grabbing hooks cannot entirely offset the disappointingly simple riffs, and his solos, while certainly passionate and acceptable, are not particularly complex. The symphonic elements are welcome and are for the most part well-crafted if analyzed in a vacuum; unfortunately, in the context of Coram Lethe's attempts at a melodic-yet-vicious approach to melodic death, they come off as little more than contrived, forced, and seemingly random. Apparently in the interests of squeezing as much viola into an album as possible, Fusi and his mates neglected such necessary songwriting qualities as cohesion and sensible flow.

One cannot discredit the ambition of the band nor the individual results, but with the atmospheric elements' jarringly abrupt entrances and subsequent egresses and the distressingly de-complicated passages of metal, "The Gates of Oblivion" is a study in an experiment gone awry. In an attempt to craft a magnum opus, Fusi and company instead proved that the line between inspiration and obsession is approximately having one oboe too many.

Better and more original - 85%

Cronos12390, December 23rd, 2007

This is certainly an evolving of sounds. Here Coram Lethe have weakened their influences from melodeath and have incorporated more atmospheric elements into their sound. Certainly there are still plenty of nods to At The Gates in their riffs, but the rhythms here seem more focused on a sense of brutality than melody.

To evidence their stronger leanings towards atmosphere, the very first track of this record "The Angels Fell" is largely an ambient instrumental, with very powerful guitars crashing in at about 0:53, while maintaining the symphonic elements. It flows fairly well into the second track, "Shouts of Cowards" which doesn't deviate too strongly from Coram Lethe's sound. "Dying Water Walk With Us", however, does. Far heavier during it's heavy parts, and far more splendidly melodic than any clean break on "Reminiscence", they have certainly changed some things, and for the better.

One thing that has certainly improved from the last album is the vocalist. The sound of the man's voice is less distinct in comparison to the performance on "Reminiscence", however it is far more powerful and, to be blunt, less annoying. He experiments around with deeper growls, some spoken sections (The first minute or so of I, Oblivion has both a spoken and cleanly sung section), all of which work out wonderfully.

As I said earlier, the riffs sound less like they were pulled straight out of an At The Gates tab book and sound more original. More chugging rhythms can be heard now (Listen to Pain Therapy For A Praying Mantis for an example). The guitars are simple to make out but occasionally they will bleed into the sound of the drums, though not horribly. The drummer does a far better job of not annoying anyone with the same oddball attempts at originality he was guilty of along with the vocalist last time. The only real qualm I have with this album is that some songs drag on for a minute or so too long. Aside from that, they've introduced what I consider to be some welcome changes. Let us hope they do not disappoint by ending that trend with this album.