This basically puts to words how I felt the day I was walking out the door from this situation:
Tag Archives: Death Metal
The musicians involved here are two of the best in modern rock/metal that you’ve most likely never heard of unless you’ve dug for it. Dan Swanö and Ragnar Widerberg offer their particular spin on a familiar sound in Witherscape’s The Inheritance: progressive death metal. Released on Century Media records in July 2013, the album marks Swanö’s return to musical production rather than being behind the scenes. On the album, he produces, sings, plays drums and keys, and provides songwriting.
First and foremost, this is not a death metal album and that’s not a bad thing. Per the band’s website, The Inheritance discusses the fortune man whom inherits an estate in country and, deciding to investigate his new holdings, he finds “all kinds of weird shit.” The use of the concept establishes the approach firmly in the progressive atmosphere.
Sonically, the band roars in true death metal fashion on “Mother of the Soul,” leaning heavily on Swanö’s familiar bestial roar before twisting into his strong, clean singing voice which belongs in 70s high concept art rock. The song sets the tone for their approach, cleanly produced and dramatically emphasized instrumentation that holds more in common with Rush, Yes, or even Porcupine Tree than with Arch Enemy, Edge of Sanity, and other pure death metal acts. It shares tonal qualities with their country mates Beardfish from their 2012 release The Void.
The rich tone of the rock styled guitars mingling with metal is one of my favorite things, and Witherscape does nothing to disappoint with their approach here. Thematically, they make each song fit, never transitioning poorly between compositions. “Astrid Falls” is a a nice sprawling, primarily cleanly sung song that demonstrates the boundaries of Swanö’s voice. Yet, the best of the album comes from “Dying for the Sun” a song that takes you from a tentative acoustic opening into a thrashing metal core then back into a modern progressive atmosphere into “To The Calling of Blood and Dreams” that continues the metal assault. “The Math of the Myth” and “Crawling from Validity” all serve to give the music room to break free from the progressive approach into a variance of mood swinging metal akin to friends and former bandmates in Opeth.
Weaknesses approach when you really listen to some of the lyrical decisions the band makes. For example, “Dead for a Day” (a song that gets as close to classic death metal as any on the album) contains the lyric: “Oh, how I wish I could be dead for a day, so that I could hear what all the people would say. To find out in the end who was really my friend and what the meaning of life is about.” This is trite and childish writing that is refreshingly not often repeated through the rest of the album. Further, musically, the band pushes a bit too much to classic metal sounds similar to Iron Maiden that not only ramp up the epic feeling also increase the kitschy feel of the album at times.
Generally, however, unlike Sammy O’Hagar from metalsucks, I believe Witherscape’s album is a great piece. The roiling combination of 70s art rock, modern prog, classic metal, and death metal come together well here and develop to their logical conclusion in the instrumental ending. The point is to entertained and Witherscape is certainly entertaining. The music created herein develops a nice set of images in my head and gave me something about which to think, which are two primary thresholds of music I enjoy.
Enjoy! And buy the damn album. It’s worth your $5.
Recovering from my break and general state of busy, I tossed on some tunes and got to thinking. Part of writing about music you love is making sure it does not turn into a business, unless you will or wish it as so. Generally, I listen to European music. Most of the bands I end up falling in love with anymore are from the Great White North and a few from the Isles. Having cut my teeth on American metal in my youth, I constantly look for American bands to follow. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I missed this band. They contacted me regarding a review for their sophomore release.
The problem with the style of music this band plays is that it tends to come across as a wall of sound unless it’s done well. Scorned Deity offer a symphonic black-death mixture of metal. A generally flagging sound that has altogether caused more headaches of late than anything worthy of a listen. However, this Detroit, Michigan band hits the right notes of intensity and pushes the sound through from the operatic opening to its blackened end.
The mixture of the brutality of harmonizing death metal guitars and the frigidity of black metal soundscapes sewed together through Dream Theater/prog rock styled keys and synths. Each instrument inhabits its own spaces, reducing the wailing wall of sound so common of recent Dark Tranquility and other melodeath bands. The guitar tones are strong (it’s been a damn long time since guitar solos really got to me in metal) and well produced and the percussion is well on display. The band’s approach evokes Emperor to my ear, especially in its use of the aforementioned synths which in combination with the choral female voice creates an epically woven tapestry.
Well written and considered, Adventum pulls you straight into the music through its majesty and draws you down into its core with its intensity. The ride is generally satisfying, especially when the sounds don’t bleed together. If anything, the album suffers from a touch of schizophrenia as the band pulls from the two different styles and then attempts to also include industrial electronics. However, if that is my only complaint, I feel as if I’m nitpicking.
Scorned Deity’s second album is a worthy release and definitely puts the band on my watch list. I enjoyed their use of harmonizing melody and brutality. It is a writhing intense ride, but one that is completely worth your time if you’re interested in this music. And, damn is it good to have another American Metal band about whom to write that.
Amorphis has been either hot and cold with me. Their brand of music has cool from a blast furnace to varying degrees of ballad style songs to death’n’roll. In all fairness, I only recently jumped into their music in 2008 or so when I listened to Silent Waters. This is still my favorite album by them, and while I have songs that I enjoy from Eclipse, Skyforger, and The Beginning of Time, I still yet find points at which I find myself rather off put by their sound.
For lack of a better descriptor, I’ll call them folk-inspired progressive Melodic Death Metal that has encountered more rock aspects of late than metal aspects. The folk comes in regarding their subject matter: the Kalevala, or essentially the Finnish set of folktales that establish and define that country’s national identity. If anything, one can never state that their music does not fit the thematics of their lyrical content. However, sometimes the lyrics border close to Power Metal cheesiness.
Circle, however, explodes into your brain the moment you hit play on the album. “Shades of Grey” is exactly what they describe when they stated that they wanted to hit your ear with a skull rattling riff. Tomi Jousten’s voice is stunningly clear, his growls aggressive and focused, his shrieks piercing and cold. The guitar section grabs you directly by the throat, demanding your attention. In other words, it is the perfect opener for this concept album.
Then, they scale back through “Mission,” “The Wanderer,” and “Narrow Path” hitting you with metal (instead of their typical rock ballads and movements), before ripping back into your flesh with “Hopeless Days.” “Narrow Path” is the most interesting of these songs because it introduces the flute sound which seems to be the call of the Nightbird (see “Nightbird’s Song”) in which the flute drives the guitar riff, giving the song a very folk inspired feel. The tremolo picked riffs leading into the hook are amazingly placed, creating some of the best music Amorphis has done since Silent Waters. “Hopeless Days” explodes “Narrow Path” into a new direction, its riff again shatteringly heavy. “Nightbird’s Song” is crafted through a true eye toward progressive music, pulling more of the black metal genre into their sound to create a frozen, dark night scape in sound. “Into the Abyss” brings back movements into their Death’n’Roll sound, where “Enchanted by the Moon” continues this more rock inspired music though with metal substance. The chorus is amazingly beautiful with the voice leading the guitar’s whining tone in the background in contrast.
“A New Day” is the worst song off this album, having a funeral dirge quality and quite honestly feels a bit like filler just because of how very much it reminds of “Mermaids” or “You I Need” from The Beginning of Time. Therefore, to alleviate this, I recommend the purchase of the deluxe edition so that you may finish with “Dead Man’s Dream” which is a black/death inspired romp, fusing their primary sound elements together well – it feels very folk, very metal, and very melancholic.
To be frank, this is the best album from Amorphis since 2007’s Silent Waters. I enjoyed this work, and fans of the band’s eras as pure on melodic death and death’n’roll should find things to enjoy off it. I believe that finally they were able to get the folk elements of their sounds to genuinely mesh with what they attempted in the metal and rock and roll aspects. In the end, Amorphis is a Finnish institution, a unique band that comes round maybe once or twice in a generation that is able to encapsulate a national identity through their music. In other words, Circle is a stunning album (a fact that I am absolutely pleased to write after being lukewarm on Skyforger and The Beginning of Time) and is a perfect example of that which I just wrote. For lack of a better way of writing this, Amorphis is now, in my opinion, the Finnish version of Iron Maiden, and should be remembered going forth as that type of institution. Yes, you may not enjoy every song off every album they write, but damn it, you are going to be entertained and you are going to feel more familiar with their heritage when you are done listening.
This band struck me completely unaware. I had no inkling as to their existence, until I saw this album’s art on the Amazon March Metal sale page. I’ve come to understand through the recent years that the better the art the more likely I am to enjoy the band in question. The Fall of Every Season is an atmospheric metal band from Norway whose career to this point I am wholly unfamiliar, and this album, “Amends,” sent me scrambling to Dark Lyrics to judge their songwriter’s abilities.
The Fall of Every Season walks down a similar path to Opeth, blending acoustic, clean passages with doom and death metal styles to craft their atmosphere; however, the use of classic rock elements and jazz fusion moments are not found here. Generally, melodic progression is similar; however, if this is even possible, The Fall of Every Season’s sound is so densely packed that it took me three weeks to truly get through to the point where I felt a review was sensible. Without listening to the album, I believe that is as close to defining the music crafted here.
Designed as a concept with no explanation, “Amends” opens with movement, albeit with little energy. A jangling bass chugs in after a sample of train station sounds crafting this feeling of movement well. The acoustic seems to accentuate the knocking sounds from a train ride as the vehicle’s wheels amble down its track. I concur with the Angry Metal Guy review in which “Sole Passenger” is quiet probably the most engaging of tracks. Once that song comes on, I have yet to not be able to listen to the entire album, which quickly roars in to “The Mammoth” thereafter with its heavy and focused pummeling riffs.
Strand’s voice is clear, ranging from deep, bellowing roars to his fragile, nearly bardic clean singing voice. The best example of this is “Aurelia,” a hauntingly beautiful and warm song in which the trade off between harsh and gentle are perfectly juxtaposed. To wit, this is the best song and example, in my opinion, of the band (and was noted on the fan page on facebook as being the most stand alone of the songs). The variation, and focus, of the use of each instrument’s sound and its exact timing in the composition is stunningly executed, developing from the intended melancholic mood yet creating a warmth in entire piece.
The most obvious flaw of the work is the mix: at times when the music is immensely layered, my ear struggled to pick out the subtlety that Strand had interjected in this album. Though this flaw can be easily be overlooked, it does create a touch of a disconnect at points from this tapestry (yes, that’s the best analogy I have for this album). If Strand’s music, which pounds with its death metal in restraint, its doom metal moments never fell quite so pitch black and its account moments emphasize mellow fragility, is comparable to any one project (if not in a direct sound analogue), it would be Alcest. This is a reinvigoration of this death/doom mix that has become so played out that even those that forged its sound are beginning to distance themselves from it. This album is bittersweet in its melancholy; it remembers the warmth and develops it well. Overall, if you consider yourself a music fan at all, you should listen to this album.
An open note to Mr Strand: Please, do not make those of us that found this beautiful piece of work wait six years for another glimpse of your creativity.