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It is sweet & fitting to [blast] for one’s country - 76%

Tofumanchu, January 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Karmageddon Media

The outspoken Dutchmen return with an album broader in scope than their previous 'The Apotheosis'. Although the first track employs a blasting harmonised eastern melody and two tracks (Origin and 1917) are sodden with ascending ithyphallic fretwork and chromatic jitters, this album embraces classic Swedish death metal influences far more fully than the all-pervading Nile. The fusion of classic and modern makes this album far more enjoyable than the sum of its individual parts.

The journey is dynamically varied in all departments. The vocals range from minimalistic growls to all out harmonised roars, the drums go from tight compact patterns to frenzied beating and the guitars and bass cover ground between the styles of Carnage and an uncomplicated Nile. There is a strong taste of Entombed and many blackened thrashing death moments in the vein of Dissection (for example, The Cruel Hunters). However, the first three Hypocrisy albums are probably the most evident riff influences overall, particularly in 7 Months of Suffering with its simple but effective mid-paced groove and grand tremolo riffing (synth-augmented).

1567 serves as a representative microcosm of the album, demonstrating the successful use of synths to open up the music during detuned blast melodies as well as tortured multi-layered vocals conveying vivid lyrics of historical atrocity. The use of effects is subtle but worthy throughout, including decaying choral synth echoes, freaky sirens and abrasive flanging (under the corpulent doomy verses of Concrete Sarcophagus). The Haunted Ravines of Babi Yar is a superbly written interlude that is very reminiscent of My Dying Bride circa 'Turn Loose the Swans' with its emotively bleak harmonies. The listener is treated to more of this in the title track, an anthemic lumbering mix of old Gorefest and My Dying Bride. The use of string orchestration gives the song immense depth and gloom before dive-bombs and scrapes end the images of Stalin's Siberian prison/labour camps.

This is a strong performance where the music is well linked to the lyrics. As the songs do not dwell in chaos or minimalism for too long it is likely to appeal to a wide audience. However, the guitar solos are still pointless, distracting and poor retro imitations of old school shredding and strangling. It has been quite a while since I've heard solos this dire, but luckily they are fairly quiet in the mix. The ultimate way forward is to get rid of those merely passable retro riffs that take up valuable space and inject more innovative and exciting segments.

[originally written for Diabolical Conquest webzine]