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In the light of the silvery eyes of the night... - 95%

TowardsMorthond, May 17th, 2011

Sentenced evolve in dramatic style from the furious but standard early‑1990s European death metal of their Shadows of The Past debut with second effort North from Here, which displays a highly developed sense of composition, shaped by frenetic guitars coursing through frozen melodic streams in racing harmonic fury. Insane pace of intricate rhythms in complex patterns supports in parallel form the manic currents of lucid melody, framed by hyper drumming that is astounding in precision and speed within these involved constructions. Vocals now taken over by bassist Taneli Jarva are of a higher pitched, near-black metal scream with a scornful, gritty tone, ferocious and spiteful in distinctive, sometimes eccentric expressive character. His charismatic delivery brings a stronger identity to this music as opposed to the gruff, commonplace death growl of lead guitarist Miika Tenkula heard on the previous album. The soundworld of Sentenced transforms from its hateful but humble and sometimes clumsy origins of death into a violent race through bloodstained tundra.

"I want to be trapped under ice
within my peaceful glacial tomb
Far from the epoch of trend
In the Aeons of Frost ‑ In league with the North!"

Sentenced accurately execute in murderous yet finesse form at levels of blistering speed like lightning splitting into unexpected yet logical patterns in design of elaborate labyrinths voicing detestation and vengeance towards the plight and falsity of blind hordes, all the while screaming through a fury of existential alienation for harmony with universal forces in the lust for warlike adventure. There is an almost spectral coldness and hatred flowing and pulsing in this music that allies it with the emotional and atmospheric landscape associated with black metal, as well as the elongated guitar patterns that stream in melodic currents in a manner similar to the approach of black metal extended melodic phrases. This is most evident in closing track "Epic", which, if one had no prior knowledge of Sentenced, could reasonably conclude the band were wearing corpsepaint during the recording. Though not a pure black metal album in style, it shares a number of vital stylistic elements and a spiritual quality more related to black metal than death metal. However, the complex structure and technically accomplished instrumentation, not to mention a clear presence of bass in the sterile but appropriately frozen mix, prevents this from leaving the realm of death metal altogether, and instead hybridizes the two styles into a sound that would be expanded upon in the coming years, rising to acclaim in the middle 1990s with the growth of the Swedish wave of melodic death with blackened vocals. Listen to the neo‑classical lead work of Tenkula throughout this effort to hear the traditional metal guitar style that inspired similar playing in many NWOBHM‑influenced guitar-work of melodic death bands In Flames and Dark Tranquility, who are often credited with originally bringing this approach into a death metal framework.

"The goals I've set to myself are far beyond mortality
To dominate, desolate everything weak that cannot stand alone"

Innovative and entirely individual albums like this have been a scarcity in metal since its release, with very few approaching anything remotely similar in terms of the sheer imagination of the presentation, but perhaps most importantly, the overall feel of this music, which generates a sort of icy translucence in the grip of a rage‑induced blur. These blood‑on‑snow obsessed Finns would never visit these musical shores again, opting instead to carry on as musical shape‑shifters before settling into a sound far more conventional than what is on display here. North from Here is a rare work that epitomizes the vast and sublime potential of metal music when in the artistic capabilities of visionaries such as these.