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More than Emperor/Satyricon worship - 76%

Daemonlord, May 10th, 2014

Opening with a frosty array of jangling guitar chords, a gravel-coated set of lungs hissing out about cold winds and mountains, and an accompaniment of clattering drumwork, Subliritum set their musical stall out pretty straightforwardly from the off. This is the third album from these Norwegian melodic black metallers, and it is (perhaps as you might have guessed by the artwork) heavily imbued by an icy coldness. However, there is a strong level of technicality and progressiveness to the guitar work which adds an epic and melodious edge to the proceedings a la Emperor or early Satyricon.

The style of riffage certainly sets the album apart from regular melodic black metal. There is tremolo picked blasting of course, but the guitars have a clear debt to pay to Ihsahn and co. in the way that they sprawl from the speakers, weaving in a torturously melodic fashion, wildly flailing with tuneful lead work and cutting through the sound with expert precision. I noticed that there are touches of Dimmu in their sound too, because they build tension with melody in similar ways (however, it’s done in an altogether more natural manner and without quite the level of bombastic orchestration). To be honest, it wouldn’t be too far a stretch to say they construct their songs like early Dark Tranquillity (even though side by side, the bands are like day and night in comparison, I’d say there are definite similarities in structuring and the depth of musicianship). The band also has links to Keep of Kalessin, so that should give you a clearer vision of what to expect upon pressing play.

This is polished, technical and impressive in its attack, but they’ve still managed to incorporate a raw edge, which comes (pretty much solely) from the vocals which are more often than not tarnished with hatred and fizzing with rage. Everything else is done with clinical precision (perhaps at times TOO much precision, as some of the guitar licks wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dream Theater album – especially when they’re mirrored by a burst of dramatic keyboard). But, that’s a minor quibble, as 99.9% of the time, you find yourself being caught in a torrent of ear caressing melodies all fired at you fast and hard alongside a shower of frostbitten spite. It might sound like a strange mix, but it works perfectly well.

You can probably sum up ‘Downfall’ by the fact that I’m pretty sure ‘Grotesque Wars’ actually straight up and unashamedly borrows an Emperor riff, but I’d say it’s safely shadowed with enough mazy runs to stop any lawsuits being filed. Subliritum certainly can blast some nice tunes with an aggressive vigour which is unfading, not to mention an epic, grandiose manner which is a credit to their professionalism and passion. A solid release!

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