Review Summary: A must buy for all those who like their black metal melodic and fast. Or those who like their gothic metal heavy and memorable.
You know those albums that you buy out of instinct? Those albums that you just pick up from the shelves, and without realizing, go straight to the counter. Sometimes you might go and put the album back, not knowing why you picked it up in the first place. But, if you're like me, too lazy to go back, trust your instincts, then you might find a little gem. That, is precisely what happened for me.
Stefano Fiori - Vocals
Eric Righi - Guitars
Thomas Orgler - Guitars
Harald Klenk - Bass
Sabine Mair - Keyboards
Martin Innerbichler - Drums
I'm quite fond of intro's to albums, there have been so many great ones, 'The Gale' by Insomnium is a perfect example of what can be done on an intro it is serene, haunting and it just sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album. I'd love to say that 'Reflections' is a good start for this album... But it just isn't, it isn't beautiful, sorrowful, or angry and it doesn't match the rest of the albums atmosphere at all. Definitely doesn't give off a good first impression, fortunately, the rest of the album more than makes up for it. In fact, they might have well just have left the intro out, as the 30 second long scream on ‘Bloodwork’ serves as a great eye (or is it ear?) opener. This song displays a lot of what Graveworm do well, it has the mixed growl and screaming vocals, the keyboard work and a memorable riff, but compared to other songs on the album, it isn’t the best. In fact, far from it.
Where as a lot of vocalists stick to one style, the Graveworm singer certainly doesn’t, he uses his black shriek and his death growl equally throughout the album, and both sound great. Some of the best moments in the album are when he alternates between them on a chorus. If you want a good example of this listen to ‘Out of Clouds’, which is some of his most memorable vocal work. Probably the bands best asset is there keyboard player, the way she (yes, it’s a girl) plays around the instruments and makes her own melodies certainly give Graveworm their unique feel. It also gives the music a gothic touch, which when put with the black metal fury can create some amazing moments. Some of the guitar riffs, while not breathtakingly technical or advanced, strike a good note with me, they are melodic and catchy as hell. Occasionally, the guitarists play a less interesting riff, or just a pretty average one but for the most part, the guitarists are impressive.
The atmosphere on this album is hard to describe, imagine a moonlit night, you’re walking towards a huge, bleak castle with gothic pillars and what looks like human body’s creating a moat, suddenly, a huge metallic plane flies overhead, the peace is disturbed, and the castle doors open with the press of a button. The castle I described was how Graveworm come across, dark, gothic, menacing and unique. The plane and the electric door was the modern and electronic elements the band use in their sound. Despite most of the songs having that dark gothic vibe there are parts where there are electronics, and for me it ruins it slightly, it doesn’t fit in with their style and they are better off without them. But despite some of their newer musical ideas not working out, there is one weird and wonderful experiment which they thankfully pulled off. That is the song ‘Fragile Side’. It starts off like several other songs do, with a screamed vocal line but that’s as soon as they step out of their comfort zone, it is followed by some clean vocals, and then some metal core-esq. vocal shouts, coupled with a great melodic death metal riff. Although it sounds all over the place, they pull it off. Effortlessly. This song is a real high point on the album, it’s catchy, melodic, memorable, and features a nice instrumental interlude. This, and the cover of ‘I Need a Hero’ keeps the listener interested and stops the music from becoming repetitive.
What the album lacks though, is more amazing songs like ‘Fragile Side’, all the songs are great, and have some good little touches that make them different from each other. But none of them are truly memorable, the music impresses due to it’s consistency, and the atmosphere it gives off, rather than blowing the listener away, you almost get the feeling that the band played it safe on some of the songs, rather than taking a risk and trying to make something truly special. Also, despite having some songs that keep you listening, there are other parts that are repetitive, the first two songs sound similar, and the drumming is uninspired occasionally.
But even with these few faults, the album is a great piece of work, one that is a must buy for all those who like their black metal melodic and fast. Or those who like their gothic metal heavy and memorable. I for one, can’t wait to see what they do on their next album, they showed glimpses here of wanting to try new things, if they do that more on their next effort, they could be on to a winner.