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This is the time of will. - 75%

Diamhea, March 27th, 2018

Sweden's The Cold Existence are one of the better Gothenburg exports (in both dominion and sound) and just like 2009's Sombre Gates, The Essence is strapped with melodic panache that feels poignant and never self-indulgent or sappy. The obvious influence here is At the Gates, which puts The Cold Existence among respectable peers like Carnal Forge, Fragments of Unbecoming and Burden of Grief. The primary assault is a tremolo-riddled barrage bifurcated with forceful palm mutes and the occasional blistering blasting interval. The harmonized leads are balanced coherently with the somewhat-frenetic songwriting architecture, which imparts upon the album plenty of change-ups to help preclude stagnation. It works well enough, even if some of the riffs are of rather standard fare, even for early 2006.

I tried to temper my reaction to The Essence with respect to how I felt about its superior followup, and even in light of such, I found plenty of good material to chew on here. Tracks like "Fractured" weave discordant thrashing mayhem with a dexterous instinct, obfuscating the more respectable percussive backbone of the material. These moments feel particularly epic without sugary schmaltz - a tangible and positive carryover from the earlier scene (at the time), before melodic death became totally oversaturated.

Sallander's vocals are another positive, oftentimes delivered in a properly sepulchral death growl in the vein of Omnium Gatherum and the like. Intelligible enough to catch onto the narrative, and not of that pathetically neutered sneering style that nominally permeates the scene. In the heavier chord sequences, The Cold Existence really seem to nail their particular aesthetic, taking grand advantage of the quality production values, which don't unduly polish proceedings through an attempt to impart heaviness upon material that is simply lacking in a tangible riffing framework to begin with. If that's a bit too theoretical for you to accept, just know that the album is (like their other LP) thick through the middle and with some weight behind its aggression.

Given the fact that The Cold Existence are likely never going to return, we should appreciate their two full-lengths as snapshots of the era during which they were released. When I think of obscure Swedish melodic death that retains the genre's hallmarks without excessive distraction, these guys and System Shock tend to come to mind first. A good album.