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Death with some melody and gothic/symphonic stuff - 35%

deadweight2, January 5th, 2009

Souldrainer's Reborn is a somewhat unusual album. It's melodic death metal that pulls in strong gothic influences. I thought I sensed a bit of an atmospheric or symphonic feeling, too. But when I say melodic death metal, I don't mean Gothenburg-style stuff, a la In Flames or Dark Tranquillity. This is slow death metal, with a little bit of melody, in the Swedish style, and mixed with other influences.

In addition to the usual set of guitars, drums, and death metal growl, Souldrainer adds keyboards and some sort of string instruments (violins?). The band also uses church choirs and high-pitched female vocals in a few places. This gives Reborn a bit of a gothic or symphonic feeling: not overwhelmingly so, but it's definitely there.

The atmosphere is dark, foreboding, and depressing. The tempo is pretty slow. The music gets its heaviness through a layered haunting sound rather than speedy guitar licks. The singer's voice is ominous, thick, and brutal, and reminds me a little bit of black metal. The guitars are slow, chunky, and add a lot to the dark atmosphere. I don't remember any guitar solos. The band uses the keyboards in a restrained manner; they fit in naturally.

One thing I liked was that the tempo in each song was pretty steady and the rhythms were simple. No complex time signature changes or progressive influences here; just straightforward straight-ahead stuff.

Compared to other bands and albums that this reminded me of: Reborn's guitar and singing reminds me of Zonaria's Infamy and the Breed, though Infamy and the Breed is much thrashier; Reborn has got a similar crunch and vocals to This Ending's Inside the Machine, though Inside the Machine has speedier, more virtuosic guitars and fast blast beats galore; Reborn is also similar to Godgory's stuff, except that Godgory has far more variety and is just a damn sight better all around. (Incidentally, I couldn't help noticing the medical equipment beeping in the last track of Reborn. That reminded me of Godgory's brilliant use of this device on the opening track of Way Beyond, which sends chills down my spine every time I hear it.) And neither Zonaria, This Ending, nor Godgory have the same degree of gothic, symphonic, and atmospheric influences.

Personally, I confess that in the end "Reborn" was not really my cup of tea: I'm not wild about the mixture of genres represented here. (I prefer Gothenberg-style melodic death metal and the gothic, symphonic, or atmospheric stuff doesn't appeal to me much. Hey, tastes vary.) As a result, I might not be the best reviewer, and you probably shouldn't pay too much attention to my numeric score. I'm not sure what fans of this mixture of genres would think. I suspect they might find the album competent albeit a bit generic, but like I said, I'm probably the wrong person to ask.