Review Summary: Don't expect any Eulogies to sing you to sleep...
With the band's 3rd full-length 'Prisoners' set for release early next month, I thought it a good time to review this album, which became one of my personal favourites. Obviously how 'good' music is is an objective concept, and I sure as hell enjoyed this a lot more than some others did. The band's first release, 'Once Only Imagined' seemed so completely uninteresting and pointless that the greatness of this album came as a complete surprise. So I'll start from the beginning.
The album opens with a short drum roll before we are sucked head-on into relentless riffing and demonic shrieks with 'The Tempest'. The song is paced perfectly and expands on itself whilst maintaining a strong sense of direction, leading into beautifully sung clean sections and flowing neatly back into sonic carnage. The opener ends with a fantastic breakdown in which the main guitar riff is played in the bassline, making for an insanely cool finish.
Alissa's vocals have improved and matured in both the clean and growled areas. Her dynamic screams and shrieks are hands-down some of the genre's best, although her cleans sometimes leave a little to be desired. While the power of her clean voice is displayed perfectly in songs such as 'The Tempest' or insanely good 'The Sentient', she often sounds too nasal and her voice too pushed or forced. Her irritating cleans almost ruin songs such as 'When The Bough Breaks' or the impossible-to-enjoy chorus of 'Chlorpromazine'.
Despite these occasional missteps the true enjoyment in this album lies in the flourishes of creativity and genius that make themselves known here and there. Hugely underrated 'Martyr Art' integrates choral and orchestral elements very cleverly into the mix to add the the flavour and atmosphere crafted by the music. Although 'Chlorpromazine' is a weak track as a whole the instrumental interlude that begins just after the halfway mark is pure genius; mysterious, beautiful and tantalisingly exotic. The ending that follows it is also maliciously evil sounding, with Alissa showing off her ability to pull of high-pitched shrieks just as well as her lower grunt-growls.
Musically there is little to say. The guitars play some great riffs but don't provide many solos or leads (notable exceptions- the end of 'Martyr Art' and the great solo in 'Globus Hystericus'). The drums are fantastic, particularly in tracks such as 'The Tempest', and fit the band's style like a musical glove. There is, however, one more element of this band that is always hugely overlooked; the lyrics. Every song on this album reads like pure poetry. 'Globus Hystericus' presents the issue of environmental concerns in a far more intelligent way than most similar songs, 'Birds Elope With the Sun' contains lyrics as complex and beautiful as its title and mediocre-single 'Thank You Pain' is saved by it's creative lyrics representing a criminal trial.
All in all this album scores a 4 overall, minus 1 for bad cleans but plus 0.5 for incredible lyrics. 3.5 it is.
The Tempest: The Siren's Song, The Banshee's Cry
... And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep.