Torchbearer
Death Meditations


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Gola USER (38 Reviews)
May 5th, 2011 | 49 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An ominous, melancholic, monumental album full of blackened melodic death metal goodness. May be a bit of a grower, but reveals its subtle charm after a few listens. Probably one of the strongest metal releases of the past few years.

Torchbearer have always had a knack for bringing the death back into the melodeath genre. Coupled with many black metal influences and a tendency to experiment with themes and concepts, they've delivered two solid albums in 2004 and 2006. Their latest work, Death Meditations, abandons the concept approach to produce a more varied and indeterminate album, while still preserving most of the elements and aesthetics they have been known for.

Death Meditations is more melancholic sounding than the previous two releases, and feels more mature compared at least to Yersinia Pestis. The hooks and licks of this album aren't as instantly catchy as those from Warnaments, but this is probably what makes a good metal album - ones that you need time to fully understand and appreciate have long lasting appeal, while albums you like right away tend to get real boring real soon. Rest assured that Death Meditations is the former kind of album. While after your first listen you'll probably surmise that the album isn't as interesting as Warnaments, it's intricacies are certain to reveal their subtle charms after continued spins, possibly even giving a greater experience than Warnaments.

By the time I'm writing these words, my second spin of the album is coming to a close, and I'm already growing to appreciate its various highlights. It's noteworthy that most songs (except for the instrumental interludes) are considerably longer than on Warnaments and Yersinia, with all of them surpassing the four minute count, sometimes clocking in at over five. While the album doesn't have the catchiness and flamboyance of Warnaments, the increased song length makes each song stand out on its own more than it was the case on the previous two albums, where each song was but a piece of a greater whole. The fact of the songs being longer also allows for the band to showcase more of their songwriting skills, resulting in songs having lots of complexity and progressive edge.

Apart from sounding more melancholic than the previous works, the album is also seemingly more black metal oriented than the previous two, both thanks to the use of blatantly black metal riffs on tracks such as The Momentum or Severings, but also the symphonic elements that accompany them. The keyboards are more subtle and receded to the background than on Warnaments, but overall more natural sounding and greatly contributing to the solemn atmosphere of the album.

Songs like Coffin-Shaped Heart (a title one would expect HIM would give one of their sugary hits) or At Takao River are examples of more melodeath styled songs, but each of them is more interesting on their own than whole albums of some other bands, especially the latter - an eerie, contemplative piece composed with great subtlety and maturity. There are also three instrumental songs on the album, serving both as reprieve from the relentless black/death assault and as an enrichment of the overall mood. Portals showcases that the composers could easily get a job as movie score writers with its ominous string and piano based sound, while In The Shadow of Leaves brings some of Opeth's best to mind. Finally, the album closer is a much longer and fully metal piece The Aphotic Depths, which pretty much sums up all the best things that this album is about in an explosion of awesomeness.

Those familiar with Torchbearer need not be told how good the instrumentation on this album is. Everything is enhanced by production that's flawless in every respect (courtesy of Plec, who also plays bass for the band), placing the guitars in the foreground, but never neglecting drums, synths nor vocals. As for the latter, the band has begun to use Pär Johansson and Christian Älvestam much more together, with their parts often interchanging or even overlapping. Analogicaly, there is much more Christian and his deep, abrasive growls than on the previous albums. Not to say that Pär's vocals lack anything, on the contrary - he delivers something between his usual high-pitched shrieks and his low growls, somewhat of a novelty. Patrik Gardberg delivers very capable, even memorable leads as always, while Christian's rhythm playing is ever evolving for the good.

All in all, Death Meditations contains almost too much goodness to be digested at once. Even though it's an average length 10-track album, it's so varied and full of intricacies that it feels like it's longer, and you enjoy every minute of it. Almost everything about this album is perfect, or at least couldn't be any better. A fantastic release that's bound to become essential.

Recommended tracks:
all of them

Pros:
- the guitar leads
- long and fairly progressive, well-written songs
- fantastic instrumentals
- maturity and atmosphere
- everything else

Cons:
None



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user ratings (34)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
XfingTheSullen
May 5th 2011


2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Come to think that when I started writing this review, I wanted to give this a 3.5. After some listens it turned out how it is instead.

Digging: Kalisia - Cybion

TheArkitecht
May 5th 2011


1672 Comments


good review, I completely forgot about this and warnaments was fantastic so I'll pick this up as soon as possible.

XfingTheSullen
May 5th 2011


2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Please do. This album is better at dimmuborgiring than Dimmu Borgir and better at slaying than Slayer.

Itwasthatwas
May 5th 2011


769 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is pretty good, but not as good as you're making it out to be
i haven't decided yet if it's better than warnaments

BallsToTheWall
May 5th 2011


44369 Comments


good review, want to her the rest of this. Coffins is a solid tune.

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

XfingTheSullen
May 5th 2011


2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

What's wrong, guys? You need to hit this fucking review! Listen to this fucking album!

HenchmanOfSanta
May 5th 2011


1866 Comments


Good review but it doesn't read like a 5 at all.

DurzoBlint
May 5th 2011


1180 Comments


Downloading it now while I find references for this dam assignment. Hopefully its good.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2011


7041 Comments


Really a 5?

Grimlin
May 5th 2011


842 Comments


officially out for 10 days (don't care that it leaked a long time ago), and it's a classic. c'mon. and the only thing about this that's better than Warnaments is the production. not a bad album, but no 5.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2011


7041 Comments


Sorry Adam, just not hearing the 5star quality. 3.5 to 4 (closer to 4). Might just be your thing.

XfingTheSullen
May 5th 2011


2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I decided to go a bit wild. I spam 4.5s too much so it wouldn't have sufficient impact if I gave it a 4.5. This can probably drop in time, but right now the album is still ripening in my ears. Most likely not a five for most of you, but this album has something to it, for sure.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2011


7041 Comments


It's there, just not a five, review content is great though. Pos

Grimlin
May 5th 2011


842 Comments


This can probably drop in time, but right now the album is still ripening in my ears.


reviews are usually better after the "ripening"

ev0ken
May 5th 2011


586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listened to this earlier today again. good album, i got it at a 4...might bump it up to a 4.5 after a few more listens.

Itwasthatwas
May 5th 2011


769 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is basically a solid melodeath record that's a fun listen to but doesn't do anything new or memorable

ev0ken
May 5th 2011


586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah. nothing new, but it's still a fun record, it seems to be one of those records i can listen to a lot without getting tired of it, that why of my high rating.

XfingTheSullen
May 5th 2011


2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

What's wrong with that "new or memorable" mumbo jumbo everyone keeps spitting out? What did you expect, metalcore?

asdemonsburn
May 5th 2011


793 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Warnaments is better


Ending
May 5th 2011


1914 Comments


I've been meaning to check these guys out and your review has convinced me. Any recommendations for starting albums?



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