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Dissection's finest work - 98%

Karkaton, October 27th, 2008

"The Somberlain" is Dissection's first full-length album, and definitely their best release to date. The production fits the music extremely well, with the mix not sounding too clean, but showcasing a somewhat rawer and “colder” sound. The music is also very different from their older material (Reinkaos, Maha Kali, etc.), being more atmospheric and ‘passionate’, whereas their songs are more straightforward heavy metal/melodic death in their later work. “The Somberlain” is also Dissection’s last full-on black metal release, as “Storm Of The Light’s Bane” introduced the band’s further exploration into melodic death metal territory.

Generally speaking, this is a solid melodic black metal release that exudes a strong heavy metal influence and seems to, in a way, create the outlines of the melodic death metal sound as we know it today. The songs are very diverse and all of them follow a progressive trend quite different to 90’s black metal…That's why "The Somberlain" is so unique and revolutionary - It's different, fresh, and never gets boring or monotonous.

The guitarring on this album is absolutely breathtaking, and reaches a level of sheer melodic perfection on songs such as "Black Horizons" and "The Somberlain". Brilliantly skilled classical guitars are used on the songs "Crimson Towers", "Feathers Fell" and "Into Infinite Obscurity", which are utilized perfectly as they break down the tension that is built up by the intensity of the other songs, and set a tranquil mood for the storms that follow. A more minimalistic, yet skilled approach on the drums by Ole Ohman creates a very dark atmosphere which could not have been done better by the likes of Nick Barker or even Hellhammer himself. Jon's vocals sound flawless and cold as they hit you at full force on every song, proving himself as one of the best black metal vocalists to have ever graced the scene.

The album opens with the 8-minute opus "Black Horizons", which takes you on a fierce nocturnal journey by combining ferocious shredding with vast tempo-changes, acoustic guitars and even an old school, Iron Maiden-type yell in the break of the song. The chorus is extremely catchy, and it will have you singing (growling?) along from the second you hear it. The riffs are some of the best I've ever heard, and are very reminiscent of Dark Tranquility and At The Gates at times.

Another masterpiece is the title track, which mixes harmony and brutatlity at an intense speed with a perfect solo that will leave you weeping for it's sheer beauty. The song really progresses perfectly, with many tempo-changes and differences in the style of the riffs. Some great blasting occurs around the end of the song, and the double-bass work is also top notch. What an epic piece of art!

Tracks like “A Land Forlorn” and “Heaven’s Damnation” feast on great tremolo picking and then evolve into more mid-paced sections, only to break out into mighty, double-bass driven frenzies of old school death metal likeness. Thrashy elements and an acoustic piece on “Heaven’s Damnation” really breaks the mould and sets new boundaries by still maintaining the heavy metal/black metal formula that works so brilliantly throughout the album.

One of Dissection’s trademarks, "Frozen", begins with a build-up of toms, snare and Black Sabbath type riffing only to burst out in a cold verse of melancholic stature. My favourite part of the song is around 2:10 and onward, when a dark formation of riffing breaks out onto an old school black metal sound. A definite anthem.

Dissection also expirement in their song “In The Cold Winds Of Nowhere”. It starts off quite slowly, with a walking riff at a doomy pace and then builds up to a punky tempo quite similair to the trademark Carpathian Forest sound. The chorus is very catchy, and the famous chant “In the cold winds of nowhere!!” makes this a song that completely dominates, both musically and lyrically.

Diversity is further explored in "Misstress Of The Bleeding Sorrow", which is a medley of phases, each complimenting the other. The intro is lead by Ohman, combining amazing double-bass drum patterns with medieval sounding guitar harmonies. A more heavy metal and doom-influenced approached then leads through the first two minutes of the song and then harshly speeds up for a full-on mental assault of tremolo picking and monumental battery. This song is very diverse and is very atmospheric, it creates a genuine mood of darkness, depression and melancholy.

Then there is also “The Grief Prophecy”; the shortest song on the album, and really action-packed and progressive. One of the best riffs ever to this date, which is an extraordinary hybrid of melodic death and heavy metal, slithers it’s way through a slow paced build-up and is executed perfectly. The tempo then changes to the jumpy, fast paced rhythm that has set the trend for most of the album and the song finishes with a tremendous exclamation of demonic growling, battery and riffage.

This album is definitely a classic in metal, and, in my opinion, the essential melodic black metal record to own because of it’s flawless balance between ferocious brutality and melancholic passion.