Review Summary: Detonation has crafted one of the best melodic death metal albums to come out in a long time, filled with massive thrashy riffs and awe-inspiring melodic hooks.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Melodic Death Metal should be.
I remember when Detonation's previous effort, Portals to Uphobia, came out. It was a pretty damn good album. Not the greatest I'd ever heard, but still pretty damn good. It encompassed all the important elements of the genre. The innate thrashiness of death metal, combined with a few helpings of melody to really make the experience memorable. I'm happy to say that, with Emission Phase, Detonation have taken all the best aspects of their previous album, and intensified them into infinity. This album is one hell of a listen. It's catchy and very melodic (but not overly saccharine melodies found in a lot of these new metalcore bands, we're talking about a darker, brooding melody), yet complex and headbang-inducingly thrashy, definitely a winning formula. From the opening notes of the fantastic "Invoking the Impact," you know you're in for a wild ride.
The first aspect of this element that really deserves praise is the guitar work. The boys from Holland really outdid themselves here. The album is jam packed with monstrous grooves, hyper-melodic fills, and sky-high solos. A great example of the solos on this album is the one near the end of "Defects of an Isolated Mind;" it's melodic, yet quirky, and is set upon the perfect backdrop of chords, giving it the kind of doom-like atmosphere and feeling that the album seems to stand for. There's also the solo section of "Soul Severence," which takes a more conventional approach, yet still leaves you reeling because of its shear melodic beauty. I also want to note that the chord progressions these guys chose are splendid. Perfect for the mood of the album.
Everything else about this albums fits in its place perfectly. The drums are amazingly executed, and work perfectly with the guitar to create the thrash element of this album. The bass, while understated, is effective in giving the album weight. The producers also obviously know what they're doing as well. The mix of the album is spotless and clean, but not overdone, so the album still retains the character of its creators, and doesn't venture into the realms of sterility.
I promised myself that I wouldn't go into a song-by-song description, but there's one song that absolutely needs to be mentioned: the album's closing track, Fallout. While the rest of the album denotes life in a frenzied, panicked state, this track brings only the feeling of death. Listening to this track conjures images of the Earth reduced to a barren lifeless wasteland, after the cataclysm of a meteorite impact that destroys, well, everything.
Melodic Death Metal has become watered down in recent years, as most of you well know. As of late, there's been too much emphasis on the melodic aspect, which has only served to create albums that pander the mall-core demographic of the metal world. What Detonation have done is they've gone out and created a real METAL album. When you listen to this album, you'll be banging your head around one minute to the massive thrash attack, and you'll be staring off into eternity, contemplating the meaning of life the next (but mostly the former headbanging part). It is my hope that these guys continue on their current path, because if this album is any indication, these guys have what it takes to be the kings of the melodic death metal mountain.