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Resounding through the void. - 75%

Diamhea, February 22nd, 2018

I've stuck with Germany's Kambrium up to this point, and I'm generally glad that I did. The Elders' Realm was really their big chance to prove themselves. Production values are heightened, guest vocalists are brought in, orchestrations take a much larger role and the breadth of the songwriting is generally inflated - for better or worse. At over an hour, The Elders' Realm feels more like a modern power metal album in the vein of Orden Ogan, only without the same quality of riffs and vocals. Don't count Kambrium out however, as that is an extremely high standard to reach for. They do benefit from a relatively distinctive vibe and atmosphere, but it isn't a flawless experience by any means.

Opening the record with the seven-plus minute "Abyssal Streams" was a risky venture, but a necessity to prepare the listener properly. A true epic and easily the best track here, it revolves around a fairly simple melodic line and simply builds upon it gracefully. Driving double bass and a few decent power metal licks lurk within the oppressively symphonic confines - it is an amazing tune. Other highlights include the sweeping grandeur of "Reckoning of the Great" and the forceful title track. "Shattered Illusions" was released as a single, perhaps more by circumstance than design due to its more compact nature - but I find this track forgettable and the chorus falls flat.

I found myself pining for more clean vocals in many spots of The Elders' Realm, which really brings the sound to another level. Martin's Johan Hegg-esque death growls add some intensity, but Karsten's cleans are tender and he has a good sense for riding the melodies and not overreaching - although his accent can be somewhat distracting at times. Sometimes the album feels like a bit of a mixing pot of ideas just thrown together, with keyboard solos that come totally out of left field and simply don't fit the sound. This plethora of ideas draws the ear off into this or that direction, resulting in a somewhat incoherent experience at times.

The riffs have their moments, with some speed metal licks and melodic death theatrics existing at standouts. The production sort of suffocates the rhythm section, and the leads are neither here nor there from a quality standpoint. The vocals compensate for this slightly, but I kept thinking of Orden Ogan when listening to The Elders' Realm, and how I would rather listen to Ravenhead or something. But as a capable alternative, Kambrium are definitely onto something here. A more focused followup effort would be well appreciated.