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sickly sweet - 47%

Abominatrix, October 31st, 2003

When I heard that this band played doom, was American and had a powerful clean singer, I naturally thought this would be pretty good stuff, maybe along the lines of Solitude Aeturnus, whom I've always had an extreme fondness for. Well, I was partially right...indeed, as the Candlemass cover "Epistle no. 81" indicates, this band does owe a considerable debt to 80s doom legends. Where this band falls very painfully flat is in their decision to douse their music in a miasma of vile sounding keyboard that just makes the whole affair sound like sickly sweet gothic cheese. I am not one of those people who claims that keyboards do not belong in metal, however I do believe they should be used sparingly, unless the band in question is really clever and knows exactly how to incorporate them into a metal framework. Yes, these songs are slow and yes, they hint at possibly being rather depressing, though some of the melodies sound more like Bon Jovi than good doom metal...but the proceedings are totally undermined by this thick squall of string patches that makes me think more of mid 90s Genesis than gloomy, angst-ridden atmospheres. Vocals are reasonably good; the man clearly has a powerful voice, and knows how to use it, but even the vocal melodies have this almost cloying quality to them that makes me feel that something went terribly wrong with this potentially very good band. I believe I even heard some death growls in one track, which was a nice touch, but My Dying Bride did this mixture years ago to much greater effect. Finally, the Candlemass cover is awful as it sounds like the band is just going through the motions: they play it faster than it ought to be and seem totally bored, which leads me to want to say to this band, "guys, I think you're in the wrong genre".