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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.