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Their Finest Hour - 97%

OzzyApu, May 9th, 2011

Now this one’s phenomenal in every way. Shrouded Divine has everything I dig when it comes to extreme metal: dense passages, emotional melodies, production catering to the content, daunting scope, and well-written, well-played riffs. Band-wise, the group was set with a stable line-up after years of running through a gauntlet of demos. But don’t let that throw you off, either – this isn’t Gothenburg-y or run-of-the-mill modern metal. This full-length legitimizes their career and puts them ahead of anyone in their league.

The five-piece is a group of musicians without much credibility to their names that, in the end, accomplish more than thought possible. Every song on here captures the genre: acoustic / clean interludes, harmonic leads, roaring vocals, poignant atmosphere, and beastly riffs. The rich production job is fantastic, offering a crisp, burly tone to the blubbery bass and sharp guitar attacks. There’s the rhythm obviously playing low-end, dynamic riffs, and the other two guitars nailing sorrowful leads. The bass supports the rhythm with warm civility enhanced by the dreary atmosphere, and the drumming is anywhere from assaulting like crazy or cool and calculated. Every instrument lays an effective tune that together creates thoughtful, memorable melodic death.

A status above the other members is Tobias Netzell, clearly the brains in the group as the frontman / lead songwriter. He executes three styles: beastly growls, higher-pitched growls / screams, and clean singing. His low growls are scorching and punchy, the highs are condescending and chilling, and the cleans, while awkward and amateurish at first, sink in to become passionate and pleasing. The growling gets the most time, but the other styles aren’t petty, as they are always used perfectly in these compositions. Each song is cherished, sanguine negativity with the first half of the album being the voyage into despair and the second half outdoing the first half in atmosphere. While every song is worthy of being a classic, “The Art Of A Mourning Kind” and the two tracks that follow are the ones that propel this album to the top. They slay in every category, and push the boundaries of forlorn progressive melodic death metal.

Thus, Shrouded Divine has become one of my beloved albums. It does everything better than its peers, and with class to back it up. It’s melodic death with death/doom and prog influences that knows how to be rocking and dismal without becoming melodramatic. Listeners of the aforementioned genres would be a whole lot more content musically when listening to this album.