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Heaviest melodic death metal I've ever heard - 85%

Drowned, January 6th, 2006

I can't say that I was ever a fan of the Last Episode Productions catalog. The vast majority of their releases were from accessible, keyboard-laden black metal bands who I had no interest in whatsoever. The only promising material I remember hearing from that label was an mCD by Isegrim from the late 90's. That is, until I heard Violation. What makes this German band different from the rest of the LEP roster is that they don't play black metal, but rather a very heavy form of dark melodic death. "Beyond the Graves" was recorded at Abyss Studios with Peter Tägtgren himself supplying backing vocals to many of the songs. In a nutshell, the album sounds like a heavier, more melodic version of Fleshcrawl's "Bloodred Massacre".

With Violation, Tägtgren continues his tradition of providing German death metal bands with top-notch production jobs. The sound on this CD is immensely thick, and if I didn't know any better I would have thought it was recorded at Studio Sunlight! The rhythm guitars and bass are tuned extremely low, easily rivaling the tone of Carnage or Entombed; while the vocalist sounds like a cross between Antti from Demilich and Ihsahn on the Thou Shalt Suffer demo. His voice is like a reptilian croak sent to this world from the deep bowels of hell.

The music itself is a strong mixture of pulverizing, mid-tempo death metal along the lines of Incantation and ethereal, atmospheric Gothenburg-style melodeath. Each song provides a little bit of both, continually keeping the listener on edge and wondering what type of riff will come out from behind the corner next. The melodic sections are more frequent on the second half of the album. These parts are lined with ghastly keyboard effects and Peter Tägtgren's black metal-style backing vocals to add to the epic atmosphere. The drummer focuses much of his attention on heavy double bass kicking rather than blastbeats, which there are very little of on this CD.

The stand-out tracks are "Thuata de Danaan" with its profusely heavy chorus riff, the headbanger "Bleeding Souls" and the epic "Through the Gates of Infinity". The latter features some serene acoustic guitar sections towards the middle of the song that are a pleasure to listen to. In reality, all of the tracks on this album are completely solid, with maybe the exception of "Invocation". That particular song just has too much of a black metal feel for my taste, relying heavily on keyboards and those whisperry rasping vocals. It sounds very mellow and almost watered down compared to the rest of the songs.

If you like your death metal mid-paced and downtuned, and aren't afraid to experiment with keyboards and melody then this album is for you.