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Incredible Improvement, Infinite Potential - 96%

terraphobic, March 16th, 2012

After hearing Dagon's previous Ocean-themed album and ep, I wasn't particularly impressed. For one thing, both Secrets of the Deep and Paranormal Ichthyology sounded like they were recorded on either a mobile phone or a space age toaster, so yeah, the production values weren't great, but neither was the music. It was bland, the drum kit sounded like a toy, and the only saving grace of both releases were the melodies and solos. But the release of Terraphobic essentially was the extreme makeover Dagon needed to become a more-than-solid melodeath/ thrash band, of which there are so many.

Onto the album itself, I'll lay down three facts that ring true throughout the album:
1. The lyrical themes are absolutely brilliant.
2. There is only one bland song on the whole disc.
3. The production value is fine - they no longer sound like they recorded the album with a budget of 10 rupees.

Elaborating on the lyrical themes, they are simply brilliant. Dagon have always played songs of an ocean-ish theme, but they make their only wildcard - the ocean - become seemingly diverse whether it's about ship to ship battles, Lovecraftian creatures, or Vikings.

Track 1, "Cut to the Heart", is a solid, but not standout track. It has a great opening and the track itself is a solid opening for the album, however it may not hook listeners in as well as one of the more exciting tracks. It showcases the dual vocals nicely, alternating between the drummer's demonic screeching and the bassists Amon Amarth-esque growl. The chorus is particularly catchy.

The next song, "Demons in the Dark", is another decent, but not brilliant song. The lyrics, however, are extremely exciting and the song boasts one of the better solos on the album.

One of the main standouts of the album is the next barrage of consecutive songs starting with the title track, "Terraphobic". It has the best intro of all the songs on the album with the bass melodiously twanging away. Despite there being no solos in this song, the main riff is so infectious that I can't bring myself to stop playing this track. "Wave of Predation" has some of the best high-low scream contrasts as well as a cool lyrical theme and an excellent solo. "To the Drums We Rise" is a slower-paced song, but is still excellent with the best part being the demonic chant of "ROW" towards the end of the song. "Full Speed Ahead" could be my favourite track of the album with its relentless pace, an incredible solo, and extremely catchy lyrics. It's also the song where the bass is most prominent, methinks. "Into the North" has probably the best riff on the album and a really steady pace, somewhere between "Full Speed.." and "To the Drums..". However, the lyrics are a little repetitive.

"Terraphobic" all the way through to "Into the North" are without a doubt the best tracks, not to say that track 8, "The Last" is a bad song, but the pacing is a little slower and it's a little uneventful, but I really love the Lovecraftian lyrics. The only poor track of the disc is "The Sea Encompassing". To put it bluntly, it's filler and it's boring.

"Feeding Frenzy" is the penultimate track and is re-recorded off an early release. It sounds great and there's almost a metalcore-esque breakdown which really is... a frenzy. Again, the lyrics are extremely addicting and I often find myself growling along.

The final track, "Ocean Metal", is, in a word, interesting. It's like Dagon's anthem... Ocean... Metal. If someone asked me to describe Dagon I would play them this song. Rapid chants of a titular phrase and swooping melodies make this the perfect "this-is-what-Dagon-is-all-about" track. It doesn't beat "Into the North", but you'll be humming it to yourself later. The real surprise comes at the last leg of Ocean Metal with Judas Priest-esque clean vocals. They aren't bad, but they're not really needed either. Either way, they still manage to close the album out on a high note (pun intended) and don't ruin the final impression, at least not for me.

Overall, I think this is a particularly impressive melodic album. The genre is swamped right now and this little band from Lansing, Michigan have managed to make an album at the same standard (or, in my opinion, better) than melodeath heavyweights such as Kalmah or Amon Amarth. My only criticism would be that they could have better utilized the dual vocalists to do more "scream harmonies" or something. Alot of the time it's a simple "you take your turn, I'll take mine" affair. Other than that, this is an incredible album that I'd recommend to fans of any genre as it really is something special.

Top 3 tracks-
3. Terraphobic
6. Full Speed Ahead
7. Into the North

Promising but not consistent - 76%

Morhguel, September 29th, 2010

I have to make a confession first, I've never heard of this band, only the members' former groups. And according to those bands I was quite surprised by this power metal-like booklet with the dragon, the storm and its colour. But after a listen it just started to make sense. It absolutely fits into the image built up by the atmosphere of this songs, even though their music contains some weaker moments. What we hear is a melodic death/thrash metal with gothenburg influence, a bit similar to the early Dark Tranquillity, but we also can hear other melodic death influences, for instance, the structure and the riffs of the song 'To the Drums We Rise' is similar to the work of the great viking melodeath masters Amon Amarth. Besides, Norther's name came up at some moments (without synth, of course) and because of the conception and the style, Exmortus and the old Amoral should be mentioned too. This band could be also mentioned as the fusioned reincarnation of Bestiary and Summer Dying as it's brutal but melodic like Bestiary and has gothenburg influences like Summer Dying had.

In this cavalcade of the musical styles it's quite hard to put this group into one genre or another. And they shouldn't be categorized, at least not for now, in my opinion they are still in search for their own sound. As I see, they've almost revealed their uniquity but in different musical styles they have different songwriting ability. On the one hand, I would recommend the first three songs, they are simply great. The chorus of 'Full Speed' Ahead is really catchy and well-written, and if I were a power/heavy/death mixture-lover, 'Into the North' would be my favourite from this album. But I am not, and my favourite is still Ocean Metal with the heavy/glam vocals and the 80s/90s feeling. That song is just simply great! But on the other hand there are mediocre and boring songs. The 'Wave of Predation' is the fastest track on this record, it's a pure gothenburg thrash/death song but that's all. Mediocre riffs that I heard about a thousand times. A well-performed song though. The track 'The Last' is also not their best moment, okay, there are some soft melodies in it but nothing extraordinary. And I mentioned earlier the 'To the Drums We Rise', I think it just came off from an Amon Amarth B-sides compilation. But it's okay, there are 11 tracks on this record so it was quite expected that some of the songs would be weaker, even if they try their best.

And all in all, the most important thing is still the overall image and that is great. It has many catchy moments indeed, and I'll certainly listen to it again and again because despite the weaker songs, I like what they did here. I like the fusion of the musical styles and the path that the band follows. I don't like the sound though (the guitars are a bit quiet and weak, however, the bass is well-mixed), but it isn't disturbing, every single note can be heard. They should keep walking on this road and keep searching to find out which musical styles should be involved and which are not. Dagon is a promising band, and with a more consistent album they could be a top metal band, 'Terraphobic' showed us that they have the talent and the potential.

( Originally written for: )