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Diphtheria - To wait for fire - 60%

Radagast, August 22nd, 2008

I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about listening to this CD. Not only do Diphtheria share a couple of members with the frustrating and under-whelming Arryan Path, but this debut CD 'To wait for fire' is, just like that of their counterparts, a collection of songs written over the band's long and interrupted history. Recorded as far back as 2003, the songs are culled from a back catalogue stretching back to the early 90s and has only recently been released by a brand new label called Pitch Black Records.

Fortunately, this is a stronger and more consistent debut than Arryan Path's 'Road to Macedonia', but on the whole it is merely an above average CD that is impaired by a lack of diversity. Billed under the somewhat pretentious heading of 'heavy/power/progressive/doom metal', in reality the music is generally just reasonably epic traditional metal with a downbeat vibe about it.

The trouble is that, despite some inventive vocal parts and thoughtful lyrics, the songs generally stick slavishly to the same moderate tempo and suffer from a lack of contrasting riffs. The opening series of songs are, without being anything particularly momentous, all well-executed and enjoyable experiences, but by the time the halfway point approaches the CD has become bogged down in its own similarities and becomes a bit of a trudge.

The faster "Sleeping with the worms" spices things up a little (it also features a great falsetto scream from vocalist Nicholas Leptos that the CD could have benefited from a little more of), while the final song before 2 bonus demo tracks, "Start again", is probably the band's strongest offering. Split into 2 parts so dissimilar they might as well be different songs, it starts on a thrashy, Iced Earth-style riff before moving on to a pounding, doom-flecked conclusion. The song is a strong one in its own right, but by being that little bit different to the greater part of the CD, it stands out even more and emphasizes the importance of a little variety.

Indications from the band suggest that 'To wait for fire' will in fact be their only release, with some of the members going on to form a new project called Prodigal Earth. After listening to the culmination of their entire career's work, it may actually be for the best that this CD is left as an epitaph for Diphtheria. With a line drawn under their former band, the members will hopefully use this clean break to move on to bigger and better things.

(Originally written for