Dark Tranquillity—The Mind’s I (2007)

Dark Tranquility—The Mind's I (2007)

Dark Tranquillity—The Mind’s I (2007)

Details

Recorded at Studio Fredman, summer 1996. Produced by Dark Tranquillity and Fredrik Nordström.

www.darktranquillity.com

Band

  • Mikael Stanne—Vocals
  • Niklas Sundin—Guitars
  • Fredrik Johansson—Guitars inc. acoustic guitars
  • Martin Henriksson—Bass and acoustic guitars
  • Anders Jivarp—Drums
  • (Fredrik Nordström—Occasional keyboard overdubs)
  • (Sara Svensson—Backing vocals)

Tracks

  1. Dreamlore degenerate
  2. Zodijackyl light
  3. Hedon
  4. Scythe, rage and roses
  5. Constant
  6. Dissolution factor red
  7. Insanity’s crescendo
  8. Still moving sinews
  9. Atom heart 243.5
  10. Tidal tantrum
  11. Tongues
  12. The Mind’s Eye

Review

You know how they say you should never judge a book by its cover? Well, that’s exactly why I bought Dark Tranquillity’s 2005 opus Character. I was up for trying out something new and so I employed the same technique that I employ when buying wine: I judge it entirely on the label, or in this case the album cover.

It’s a method that has turned up some pretty decent music in the past (e.g. Lamb of God, Towering Inferno, Architects). Character was ok, a decent melodic death metal album with good production and solid song writing.

The first thing that struck me about The Mind’s I was the album cover. It’s terrible! Like some kind of gothic party game where a tray is littered with common, every day objects (parchment, pens, dead roses, a jawbone, chiffon that’s arranged to look half like a pair of sunglasses and half like a tiny bra, a ball of barbed wire).

Then there’s the font used for the CD label and inlay booklet. You know how designers say you should never use too many fonts and don’t use fancy ‘display’ fonts for text you actually need to read? Yeah, this is why. My eyesight is bad enough as it is recovering from meningitis, I don’t need to have to put up with some artsy 8pt font on top of that!

Aesthetically, I would never buy this album on a whim. Not a great start, but it’s the music that really matters…

I’m still trying to put my finger on which bands this album reminds me of. There are elements of Iron Maiden’s twin-guitars approach but my memory won’t allow to extend much beyond that at the moment.

The Mind’s I is quite a mid-paced album throughout. The odd clean guitar is thrown in here and there, and there’s quite a proggy feel to some of the songs in the way they ramble. But there’s not much here that stands out for me except for one of the riffs in “Atom Hert 243.5” which isn’t much more than a chugging power chord… but the overdriven amp just sounds so cool!

So, the artwork is disappointing, the music is fairly ‘stock’… Where Dark Tranquillilty do rise above many other bands, however, is the quality. The song writing is pretty good, even if the lyrics are clichéd angst-filled gothic/black metal nonsense, and the musicianship is on top form. A lot can often hang on the quality of vocals and Mikael Stanne certainly rises to the occasion. They are gruff but comprehensible and crucially they are not annoying!

My only criticism in terms of quality is that the production isn’t as clear as it could be, and certainly as Character is. It’s quite muffled in comparison, and too quiet.

Conclusion

All in all, The Mind’s I is a decent collection of melodic death metal tunes. But it didn’t set me on fire.

Review score: 70%

Video

Crucifyre—Infernal Earthy Divine (2010)

Crucifyre—Infernal Earthy Divine (2010)

Crucifyre—Infernal Earthy Divine (2010)

Details

Recorded at Cosmos Studios and Studio Royale, Stockholm, Sweden, January and February 2010. Additional recordings at Satanic Slaughterhouse Studios, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden. Mixed at Cosmos Studios. Mastered at The Tool Shed. Released on Pulverised Records, 2010.

www.crucifyre.com | MySpace | Facebook

Band

  • Erik “Tormentor” Sahlström—Vocals
  • TG—Guitars
  • Urban Skytt—Guitars
  • Henrik “Doltz” Nilsson—Bass
  • Yasin Hillborg—Drums

Tracks

  1. Born again Satanist
  2. Kiss the goat
  3. Hellish sacrifice
  4. Majestical/Sadistical
  5. Witch hammer
  6. Thessalonian death cult
  7. A.W.W.S/…of Hell
  8. Hail Satan
  9. The fetching

Review

Encyclopaedia Metallum categorises Crucifyre as genre: death metal, lyrical themes: Satan. So, Satanic death metal. You don’t say! You just have to read the song titles to get that.

The term ‘black metal’ was originally a synonym for satanic metal, but this isn’t quite what I would categorise as traditional black metal. Obviously, as a Christian I have a particular opinion on the lyrical content, but the question is really whether they really are Satanists or whether it’s for artistic effect, like early Slayer albums.

Musically, Crucifyre have a lot in common with pioneering thrash bands such as Slayer, Kreator, more so than a lot of death metal albums that I’ve listened to which typically have a very scooped, treble sound and a screeching, almost ‘coughing’ style of vocals.

This album sounds… well, wide. There’s a meatiness to the guitar tone, the bass is audible, and the cymbals don’t dominate the drum sound, and the vocals are understandable. The only downside to the music is that the drums sound like they were played using cardboard boxes.

The opening track “Born again Satanist” starts quietly. Creepy sound effects build to a very Slayer-eque riff, that gets very South of Heaven (1988) towards the end of the track.

Erik “Tormentor” Sahlström’s vocals sound like a cross between Mille Petrozza from Kreator and Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead. Which is perhaps fitting given that Kreator were originally named Tormentor. It all comes round in the end.

Another Slayer-esque riff is found at the start of “Witch hammer” which has a fun chorus, reminiscent in fact of “Witch tripper” from Down.

Next up “Thessalonian death cult” has a dramatic opening and progressive riff which is pounding, and a tremendous title that trips off the

Conclusion

I was a little sceptical when I first listened to this album, but after a few listens it has really grown on me. The songs are a good length, are catchy, with good riffs, memorable melodies. This isn’t just another paint-by-numbers thrash/death metal album.

That said, there is little that Crucifyre have brought to the table that is particularly new. It sounds quite retro in parts, with more than a subtle tip of the hat to their influences.

But it sounds so heavy…! I liked it. Except most of the lyrics, and some of the artwork.

Review score: 85%

Video

 

Demiurg—The Hate Chamber (2008)

Demiurg—The Hate Chamber (2008)

Demiurg—The Hate Chamber (2008)

Details

Recorded at Unisound and Rotpit Studios. Drums recorded at Excess Studio. Mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö at Unisound. Produced by Dan Swanö. All music/lyrics by Demiurg.

Band

  • Rogga Johansson—Guitars, vocals
  • Dan Swanö—Lead guitars, keyboards
  • Johan Berglund—Bass
  • Ed Warby—Drums
  • Pär Johansson—Clean vocals

Tracks

  1. Resurrecting the rotting (Flesh festival, pt. II)
  2. Cremated lies the day
  3. The terror before sleep
  4. Wolves at the gates
  5. The apocalyptic
  6. World destroyer
  7. The convulse meridian
  8. Dawn dusk delusion
  9. Opus morbidity (City of Ib, pt. III)
  10. Cult of Dagon

Review

According to Wikipedia Demiurg may refer to:

  1. “The deity responsible for the creation of the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity in some belief systems.”
  2. An alien species in the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe.
  3. A small video game development house.

No mention at all of this Swedish death metal outfit, who have released three full length albums since 2007, of which this is the second. What does Wikipedia know, anyway!?

This incarnation of Demiurg appears to be a Swedish death metal ‘supergroup’ that feature (ex-)members of Paganizer, Bloodbath, Ribspreader, Gorefest, and Ayreon.

To be honest, I’ve rather enjoyed this week’s metal offering. The album reminds me, in equal measure, of Morbid Angel, Death, and Gorefest. Even if all the songs sound largely the same.

“Resurrecting the rotting (Flesh festival, pt.II)” opens with a quotation, then bounces to life with a Gorefest/Death-style groove. Fabulous vocals: throaty, bassy, and totally incomprehensible. Perfect!

Track two (“Cremated lies the day”) opens with something akin to an angelic chorus, before blasting into a staccato-ed riff that also closes the track, accompanied by what sounds like the audio from a police radio.

Track three: much of the same. Track four: a slow track, with a funereal guitar solo reminiscent of early Paradise Lost, which then kicks into a Gorefest-style groove. Track six (“World destroyer”) sounds like a B-side from Death’s 1988 album “Leprosy”.

And so it continues. Death metal riffs fused together, twisting and turning, growling vocals (the exception being the final track, “Cult of Dagon”, which includes—gasp!—clean vocals, like proper singing and everything!), grooves, machine-gun kick drums, symphonic embellishments and spoken vocal overdubs. This is a lesson in death metal.

Conclusion

It’s not the best album I’ve listened to this year, but it is by far not the worst. (Is that a recommendation by default?) I enjoyed the power, I enjoyed the consistency, I enjoyed the riffs and the groove.

But most of it is entirely forgettable because most of it sounds the same. That could be a weakness but I rather think of it as a twisted strength: it means that the next time I’m listening to the album again for the first time!

Despite what definitely appears to be feint praise, this is definitely another win for me in the 195 metal CDs music lottery. This one I’ll keep.

Review score: 85%

Video

Sabaton—Metalizer (2007)

Sabaton—Metalizer (2007)

Sabaton—Metalizer (2007)

Details

“This album was intended to be the debut album of the band Sabaton from Sweden. Unfortunate things altered these plans and even though the album was recorded as early as 2002 it has yet never seen the light. Five years later we are proud to finally present to you the first years of Sabaton., the debut album Metalizer and the earliest demos that made up the compilation know as Fist for Fight.” (Booklet notes)

All songs are recorded somewhere (many at Studio Abyss) between 2000 and 2002. Most music and lyrics by Brodén, with some help from the others.

Band

  • Joakim Brodén: Vocals and keyboards
  • Daniel Mullback: Drums, percussion, and backing vocals
  • Pär Sundström: Bass, and backing vocals
  • Oskar Montelius: Lead/rythmn guitar, and backing vocals
  • Rikard Sundén: Rhythm/lead guitar, and backing vocals
  • Daniel Mÿhr: Keyboards, and backing vocals

Tracks: Metalizer

  1. Hellrider
  2. Thundergods
  3. Metalizer
  4. Shadows
  5. Burn your crosses
  6. 7734
  7. Endless nights
  8. Hail to the king
  9. Thunderstorm
  10. Speeder
  11. Masters of the World
  12. Jawbreaker (bonus track)

Tracks: Fist for fight (demos)

  1. Introduction
  2. Hellrider
  3. Endless nights
  4. Metalizer
  5. Burn your crosses
  6. The hammer has fallen
  7. Hail to the king
  8. Shadows
  9. Thunderstorm
  10. Masters of the world
  11. Guten nacht
  12. Birds of war

Review

Sabaton are one of those bands that I’d heard of in passing but had never actually listened to. To give them the benefit of the doubt given this, their third release, was meant to be their début album; they may have improved since in the last five years. Taking this album at face value, however, I haven’t missed much in not hearing them before now.

Musically this album falls somewhere between Judas Priest (just consider the album cover!) and Helloween but with a very Scandinavian feel: melodic but gruff vocals, plenty of opportunity for backing vocal choruses, a prominent keyboard sound behind the guitars. This is clearly a band that’s read the manual on heavy metal. But the trouble is when they regurgitate it it’s never too far from a cliché.

Take the lyrics for the title track, “Metalizer’, for example:

We live for the magic in the sound,
distorted guitars are breaking ground
The drum pounding faster than my heart,
the vocals are screaming extreme art
The passion for metal drives us forth,
the best heavy metal comes from north
The powerful tunes, spectacular shows,
the audience screams in ecstasy

Metal, metal
Back with a vengeance
Metal, metal
All that I need is heavy metal
Metal
Screaming together
Metal, metal
Metal is all that I need

It’s like an entry from the Eurovision Song Contest! And I’m afraid that it doesn’t get much better than that. Clearly many of the songs are meant to sound dark and evil, with lyrics like “No use to pray, there’s no one listening / I will die anyway […] Creations of God? / No way!” or “Clouds are gathering in the darkness, lightning strikes the earth / Evil forces celebrate, Lucifer’s rebirth”, the calculator-tastic song title: “7734”. But to me the lyrics never really sound sincere, and the music doesn’t reinforce it, either. It’s all rather poppy and cheesy, to be honest.

And speaking of pop, does this sound like a metal classic to you, written to strike fear in the depths of your soul?

“Masters of the World”

We’re a small crowd left to rotten,
There’s not many hard souls left
As the pop is growing stronger
Will metal fade away?

Will we be broken?
Will we go down?

No! We’ll never fall we’re the masters of the world
Get up! let’s break those chains
And party all night long

As I’m tweaking with my radio
There’s disco everywhere
When i turn on my big TV
Is hip-hop what I plan to seek?

Have we been broken?
Did we go down?

Hmmm…?

Conclusion

This double album really didn’t do it for me, I’m sorry to say. I listened to much of the album in the my car en route to work; Last.fm reports that I listened to only five tracks while connected to the internet! I do get that some people will get it; I’m just not one of them.

I’ll need to check out their newer material to see how they developed, but until then I’ll have to give this a very poor review score of 35%.