Review Summary: A true progressive metal masterpiece that puts the likes of "Watershed" to shame.
Many bands of the progressive metal genre have been stained with the title “Opeth clones,” and shoved out the door without a second listen. This is not really a fair assumption to make, considering that many newer progressive metal bands have been putting out innovative and intricate music, while Opeth wallows in the same concepts that it has used since its genesis in the early 90’s. Although yes, Opeth is still putting out great albums, legendary records like “BlackWater Park,” and “Still Life,” may never be seen again under the name Opeth. However, bands like Gwynbleidd, with records like this, may be replacing Opeth in only a matter of years.
For a debut album, Nostalgia is immaculately proportioned and beautifully executed. Every element of the music, from the wailing riffs, the forlorn acoustic guitars and even the throaty bass are completely audible throughout the album. Occasionally the deep bass licks will get buried in a wave of grungy guitars, only to reappear amid a group of more timid acoustics that allow the low-end to shine. The guitar arrangement is very reminiscent of both death metal and hard rock, with a diverse collection of riffs and solos. Perhaps the greatest example of this is “Stormcalling” which brings both ends of the riff spectrum into play with dark throaty riffs, and a beautiful rock opener that later corresponds with a high-gain solo. Like Opeth, Gwynbleidd tends to gravitate towards long songs, but they disperse them between short instrumental songs and a few shorter six-minute songs that help the guitar to sidestep the redundancy that plagues many Opeth albums.
In general, Gwynbleidd is more of a progressive death metal band with a preference for acoustic guitars than just a progressive metal band. Clean vocals are scarce throughout the album, and the vocal part is mostly filled by Maciej Kupiszweski, whose bitter growl I find to be much more interesting than Mikael Akerfeldt’s bland growls. The vocals are a tad repetitive but extremely well delivered and the constant shifts from growl-tinged death metal to acoustic bliss are seamless and extremely pleasing to the ear. Gwynbleidd has no trouble from flitting between the two worlds and fusing them together to create a once-in-a-year progressive masterpiece.
It’s only their first album, but if these four incredible musicians manage to hold together for the next decade, they may find themselves in a lofty position at the top of the progressive metal scene, with the legendary Opeth. Hell, they might even pass them up.
+ Excellent proportions and song division
+ Incredible acoustic guitars
+ Consistent but not repetitive
+ No songs that stick out in an adverse way
- Songs may be a bit long for some (Opeth fans won’t mind)
- Thawing innocence