(Metal Hell Records, 2013)
#FOR FANS OF: Melodic Death, Illdisposed, Amon Amarth
A solid third release from this Danish set, and one that really shows them honing themselves in on where they’re going in the future if the collection of material here is any indication as this is easily their finest release to date. Having honed their songwriting chops, which was a large part of their earlier struggles and more-than-likely responsible for the gap between this and their previous album, that extra time has turned this into a heaping slab of modern Death Metal presided over by a ravenous guitar tone and tight, pounding drumming that accentuates the melodies in the riff-work more than ever, and the result is quite impressive at times. While there’s a multitude of bands attempting to mix the melodic guitar chugging and lead melodies with tight, blasting drumming and pummeling patterns, this is a more than serviceable slice that attempts to slow down the pedestal to those groups and incorporate some Doom elements in the form of their pacing and tempo, not so much in arrangements. This tends to set them up much like countrymen Illdisposed though they opt for more groove rather than the Doom elements here, but the general practice is still the same where it marries melody and brutality in a cohesive package. Despite barely three minutes in length, opener "Perfidious Ceremony" sets the stage to come with barreling drumming, tight guitars and a thick, well-textured sound that offers up far more hints of melody than expected and really sets this off in the right direction. The album’s stand-out track, "The Dark I Will Inhale," tends to encapsulate the majority of what makes this one work with razor-edged riffing, tight leads and a choppy, energetic tempo that never rises up the mid-tempo, yet it works well in displaying what the band is about and how it’s evolved over time with a series of controlled variation switches and tempo changes, making for an overall enjoyable and satisfying track. This tends to crop up in tracks like "Trembling Realms," "Teachings of Terror – Doctrines of Death," "Scars of Red" and the title track, all of which tend to fall into the same overall pattern and presentation that really highlights the main flaw to this in that it does tend to run together with slight variations on the same theme. "My Path of Heresy" contains some rather intriguing acoustic guitar work before dwelling in a thrashing groove that would make Amon Amarth fans happy with its’ technically-proficient rumblings and an extended running time, while "Seven Thrones" sticks out for its overt Doom influence and plodding pace. Overall, though, it doesn’t really do a whole lot to distinguish itself from the hordes out there playing a similar brand of metal who are a lot more accomplished and prolific at accomplishing this feat, so it serves mostly as a turn for the right direction but still not enough to really make a lasting mark.