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Hopeful - 75%

Vega360, July 20th, 2007

This album has been getting a lot of good reviews, so eventually I picked it up. I love all things doom and figured that this would keep me entertained for a while. While entertaining it is not nearly as good as some of the reviews I’ve read make it out to be.

In terms of sound I’m reminded a lot of both Opeth and Saturnus. However when broken down there are three main categories that all the songs on this album are based around, the vocals, the keyboards and the 4-string guitar. The bass is rare (for a doom metal album this doesn’t bide well) and the drums are reduced to a mere timing device.

Half of the tracks on here (tracks 1 through 3 and 7) sound like mere filler tracks, all of them lack any real power. Anytime something has the word melodic in front of it, I brace myself for something like this. Hope is no different; four outstanding tracks exist on here (which I will glorify later) then the remainder which just make the album long enough to be considered a proper full length.

The guitar riffs on here don’t sound difficult and the riffs blend right into to the melody so most people don’t give it a second though. However with several long songs the lack of any real change can get a little bothersome. “These Hours of Despair” sounds exactly like “The Justice of Suffering” and so on, same sounding riffs and melody, same keyboards; the only difference is the vocals.

The first three tracks follow along the same until things pick up with the very catchy “Don’t Fall Asleep”. This song sounds a lot in the same vein as the first three tracks, but the killer chorus seems to make it sit better. “Too Cold for Tears” picks up the pace a little and they finally get the epic parts to sound right. This track would have made a perfect album closer, because they really don’t recover beyond that.

As I said above “Too Cold for Tears” one of the few tracks where they get the keyboards to sound right, throughout the album keyboard melodies pop up and add more beauty to the sound. However keyboards usually just add flair to something and this album really doesn’t need that much flair. Several of the riffs (and a lot of the drumming) end up getting masked by them, which always ends up bothering me.

While the concept of keyboard use can be debated by metal heads for hours (and some may disagree with the above paragraph) the lack of the bass sound on this album is a down right travesty. Matti got an easy job for this album; several of the tracks have an almost non existent bass guitar sound. I went nuts when I herd the bass intro for “The Empty Skies” because that is the only time this album really does sound heavy.

The drumming on this album sounds like a mere attempt to keep time, and the majority of the time sounds as non existent as the bass. If this is a mixing problem I can understand because I have seen it happen before, but the drum lines were written that way on purpose I really have no clue what the band could have thought that would accomplish.

Mikko does a nice job on vocals. His growl sounds very polished, and at times does get very tormenting. The clean vocals are really what add a gloomy feel towards them though especially on “Don’t Fall Asleep”. The almost whispered tone is very haunting and adds a glimpse of hope to the dreary nature of the songs. “Doomed to Walk the Earth” has backing vocals done by a choir as well which improve the epic feel that the band seems to create with there sound.

Despite the overall lack of bass and drums I can still sit through this album. It’s alright, and there is hope for the bands future albums (they already sound like they got a good fan base). With all great albums someone eventually comes along and says it is flawed, so I would recommend previewing this somehow before you buy it. If you like Opeth, While Heaven Wept, or Saturnus you might get into this.