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Hope for the Future of Melo-Death - 90%

Seditious, September 10th, 2006

How many people read long reviews? I don't know. Incase you're someone who doesn't, I want to say before I lose you DONT MISS OUT ON THIS ALBUM.

"Gothenburg" vocals are one of a handful of reasons people seem to, more and more, be shying away from Melodic Death Metal. So right off the bat I think it my duty to point out you wont find bad vocals here!! "In Blacket Velvet" offer vocals that lend themselves far more toward Black Metal than Death Metal, or God forbid the Metalcore'esque "Gothenburg" style (e.g. Soilwork, newer In Flames albums). Though Melodic Black Metal is a favourite genre of mine, it is great to hear quality Black Metal screams over some wicked fast metal with melody in lead guitar rather than synth.

"Seeing Is Believing" starts off slow with a synth tune soon accommpanied by lead guitar. With a clean vocalist and rock drumming I could imagine this as a Gothic Metal song, but their vocals remain strongly black metal and with the melodic leads they pull off an interestingly eclectic song.

"Unleashed Powers" surprises us with a phasered astral sounding synth in the background to a strong melodic riff, and a touch of whispered clean vocals. This greatly reminds me of the "Black Ash Inheritance"/"Luner Strain" days of In Flames. This is an excellent example of traditional Melodic Death Metal, and it interestingly concludes with a very classic metal style solo.

If you've heard Graveworm's Black Metal cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" you'll know what to expect here with In Blackest Velvet's version. However, this is Melodic Death Metal, so it lacks the beautiful synth in the back as in Graveworms cover. But the vocals, though mostly incoherent, are better than Graveworms' at times embarassingly poorly pronounced attempt, though they are equally monotonous except on the hook where they offer clean vocals, which are an improvement, as sung vocals seem to be exactly what metal covers of this song are lacking. Though, as a whole, the vocals here are rather quiet and the guitaring seems thin at times -- a blast beat or stronger bass would have been welcome, but of course, deep and dark isn't what this band is about. This band certainly didn't need a cover song on their debut LP.

A number of their songs transition between riffing styles. "Veiled In Ambered Sunlight" blends genres, from Black Metal riffs it changes up to Melodic Death Metal change, neither shows up the other or weakens the song. "The Delightful Temptress" is another seemless blend of influences, from wicked european Melodic Death Metal riffing, changing around halfway through to a more traditional American metal sound.

"Tears Bleed Sweeter" brings us straight back into that traditional "Luner Strain" kind of vibe, though a few progressions weaken this beginning, but and finds its footing at about 1:20 dropping from a rather too delightful sounding melody into a very nice dark growl accompanied by a strong Death Metal sound, for a moment -- sadly only a moment. This dark thrashing riff and growled vocal is something I'd hope to hear more from In Blackest Velvet in the future, as they execute it supremely. But did I speak too soon? Again we have an almost Northeresque all too happy riff interupted at 2:30, this time for good!! This time by a -beautiful- romantic lead melody worthy of respect from such romantic melodic Gods as Dark Tranquillity, followed by a deep gruff Death Metal vocal. There are absolutely amazing moments in this song, I only wish they had lasted without interuption.

To finish the album, "In Blackest Velvet." a smooth acousitic melody with romantic and folk moments lacing the backdrop. Again, sounding like something out of the Dark Tranquillity textbook!

On thiis album the guitars are heavy, the Black Metal screams are perfect, and every song has a great melodic feel to it. As for the negative critique -- the EQing on the kick drum is the only production fault I feel this album has, giving it a thin/flat finish (at least by comparison to the following suggestion...). If your computer or stereo is that specific in EQ range, crank up the "0-80Hz" range and you will love this album.

The blend of influences is very cohesive and they never step too far away from the norm of Melodic Death Metal, though their very traditional and solos (such as on "Unleashed Powers" and "Fathomless"), clean vocal moments, and touches of synth offer variety to a very strong collection of songs in what is often seen as a weakening genre. It seems they know well how to take the best of other genres to form their own definitive style of Melodic Death Metal. These guys are a proud addition to my Melodic Death Metal collection and one of few groups of whom I will be eagerly awaiting the next LP.

best cuts : "Unleashed Powers", "Driven Ashore" and (dare I say 'the second half of') "Tears Bleed Sweeter"