1996 was the year which allowed listeners to settle back and truly revel in the fervour of the year before, aka the year which truly launched the beginning of melodic death metal. This is perhaps the reason why this little-known band from Sweden never saw anything even half close to the popularity of their genre contemporaries, odd considering the music present on their official debut, “A Bloodred Path” is solid, both from a technical point of view and an execution one. Sure, it’s rough around the edges and repetition starts to linger like an omnipresent thundercloud over the last few tracks on the album, but for anyone who yearns for the more “classic” style of death metal will be more than pleased on this remarkably solid effort.
The album is true melodic death metal right down to the bone, for lead’s sounding just like the heyday of Iron Maiden and vocals akin to Tomas Lindberg are found in abundance and take the lead role in one of the album’s strongest tracks, “Tears”. This is somewhat surprising, as the song opens like all on the album; a rather overused growl of one description or another, some shrieked vocals and strong instrumentation. But at the one minute thirty mark, they subside and give way to leads sounding like they were lifted straight from “The Number of the Beast”, or any of Maiden’s earlier works. This is the album’s strong point-what the shrieked vocals sometimes lack is more than made up for with fantastic guitar playing and a great performance from one of the bands most continuous members, Oskar Karlsson. All over the album are small sections of acceleration on the double bass, rapid fills and great ride symbol sections that flesh the tracks out and give it a much more consistent feel.
Instrumental opener “Inanna”, which lacks the vocals of Sandorf really does sound like it could have come out of Iron Maiden’s early days. Although it has the obvious inclusion of double bass drums, something Nicko McBrain never uses the galloping lead guitar lines and somewhat epic feeling to the ending of the song gives it a fantastically assured feeling that even on their debut, the band knew what they were doing. Follower”Where the Winds of Darkness Blows” continues at an even more rampant pace and the fantastic instrumentation once again sets the tone.
Vocalist Mikael Sandorf does a competent job on the album, nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps in reality there is very little to distinguish him from any other vocalist in the genre, but he fits the tone of the album well and his efforts present here are even more dominating and impressive than his efforts in his latest band, The Duskfall. His guitar skills aren’t too shabby either, as mentioned before and are what you should listen out for, although the bands other guitarist Stefan Nilsson hands in a good performance too.
There are, however, one or two key problems with “A Bloodred Path” which means that while it is a great effort, it is never going to be considered as a must listen for the genre. The vocals can become wearing, especially when most songs open in one way or another with some extended growl that is not only typical of most bands in the genre, but isn’t actually all that pleasant to listen to. The great guitar lines aren’t reused, but when you get to the 6th or 7th track on an early listen it is very difficult to distinguish between those heard earlier in the record.
This is nit-picking though, for “A Bloodred Path” is a great entry into the genre of melodic death metal that should be listened to at all costs, especially those pining for the more “classical” style of the genre, which lets the guitars do the talking as well as the fantastic efforts of stickman Oskar Karlsson. Perhaps the bands obscurity and lack of any fame whatsoever works out for the better, as “A Bloodred Path” sounds so much better than many other efforts out there at the moment, even more so when one considers it was written over 15 years ago.
2. Where the Winds of Darkness Blow
4. When Daylights Gone