Being mostly into black and thrash metal, Sentenced are the kind of band I’d usually avoid, playing pretty much straight forward rock music (with a slight metal edge to it), with song titles such as “Excuse Me While I Kill Myself”, “You Are The One” and “Her Last 5 Minutes”.
So why do I love this band so much?
They just have that certain “something” that you can’t explain. Yes the music is pretty simple and predictable, but there’s just something there that makes them… special. I first got into the band when I was searching for new metal bands to get my teeth into, and as soon as I heard Ville Laihiala’s vocals I was won over. He just has a great voice: with his deep, slightly distorted and obviously Scandinavian tone, he makes lyrics that I’d usually laugh at sound convincing and powerful.
So you might be thinking that they’re a pretty depressing bunch… but actually you can just listen to Sentenced and rock out, and that’s the great thing about them. Songs like “The Luxury Of A Grave” and “Excuse Me While I Kill Myself” have laughable lyrics, but are so simple and catchy that it’s just impossible for me to not sing along or headbang (they actually sound pretty heavy sometimes). I can just listen to these songs over and over again. On top of the solid songwriting, the production perfectly suits the music: each instrument is powerful and punches through, but they never drown each other out. The distorted guitars have a dirty, thick sound while the bass rumbles away underneath (and is particularly satisfying on the verse of "Neverlasting"), and the clean guitars just sound beautiful. There’s even some keyboards here and there but they blend in perfectly and don’t get in the way.
Of course when you’re actually upset or depressed then the songs seem much more relevant. I made the mistake of listening to the band while I was drunk and a bit down, and it actually made me feel worse, like I’d hit rock bottom. This is a testament to Sentenced’s ability to make the emotions in the music seem convincing. Laihiala can sing lyrics like “Hours like days, Weeks feel like years, Decades of tears yet somehow, Everything seems so worthwhile” without sounding pathetic and whiney or like he’s feeling sorry for himself.
My favourite songs would have to be the two faster ones, “Excuse Me While I Kill Myself” and “Neverlasting”, but there isn’t a bad song on here. Each song is different, from ballads like "Guilt And Regret" to straight forward arse kicking tracks like "The Luxury Of A Grave", they all have that Sentenced “touch”. The only complaint I have is those jungle sounds at the beginning of the opening instrumental “Konevitsan Kirkonkellot”… weird! I don't know what they were thinking there.
I suppose Sentenced are a band that some people feel are really special, and to others they’re just another average band. But for those who like them, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with this album: thier best in my opinion. But then again they've never really made a bad album...