First of all a quick plug of my website SonicDeath.co.uk - over 500 reviews and over 20,000 hits in the past 4 months...and the site is getting bigger. Check it out and join the forum: www.sonicdeath.co.uk Reviews of the new Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Nile, In Flames, Audioslave, Darkane, Enthroned and many more... Here is my Darkane review from the site: --- The third album from Swedish thrashers Darkane is undoubtedly a thrash-fest, but with a whole range of influences from the spectrum of Thrash metal and to a lesser extent Melodic Death. The album artwork (which, co-incidentally or not bears a striking resemblance to the covers of new albums from label mates In Flames and Soilwork in terms of style and it's predominantly clincal coloring) when placed alongside their previous albums suggests some kind of progression or advancement in their sound. However, progression in terms of style and sound isn't exactly forthcoming, and aside from the inclusion of some subtle keyboards (in a similar fashion to Soilwork), from what I have heard of their earlier material, on the surface there is little to distinguish this from previous albums. That said, that alone doesn't make this a bad album, and it's not. It's pretty damn good. The album opens with "Innocence Gone", which until the vocals come in, you could be forgiven for mistaking for Soilwork. The riffing style combined with subtle keyboards low in the mix is quite reminiscent of some of the tracks from Soilwork's 'A Predators Portrait' and makes for a promising start. And although traces of Soilwork's sound pop up now and again throughout the album (particularly in the use of keyboards for atmosphere and to a lesser extent the some-what groovy nature of some of Soilworks riffs), it is only one of the noticeable influences in the band's sound. If you are familiar with The Haunted or Terror 2000 (which has members of Soilwork and Darkane, incidentally) then the super fast, neo-thrash sound will be very familiar to you. From time to time though, on slightly slower tracks, the sound bears more than a resmblance to early Machine Head. It's a combination that works well and makes for some interesting Thrash Metal. If this was all the album was, it would probably become very samey and repetitive, a problem with a lot of this style of hyperspeed neo-thrash (see Carnal Forge or the first Soilwork album). Fortunately, then, Darkane throw a little something else into the mix. Whilst Andreas Sydow's usually hardcore-esque shouts bring to mind a slightly monotonous Max Calavera, the simple melodies of the futuristic sounding choruses on many of the songs, in particular "Solitary Confinement", "Fatal Impact" and "Submission" bring Fear Factory to mind. Fortunately, we are spared the over the top use of reverb, echo and other assortment of vocal effects which Burton C. Bell is so renowned for using. This is a good album, however like most albums it is not without it's faults. Firstly, the vocals can become a little monotonous from time to time, and occasionally sound strained. It's a matter of taste, but I find that vocalists such as Bjorn Srid and Tomas Lindberg have a raspy edge to their voice that suits this style of music a little better. In addition, whilst the production is fine, I do think the guitars sound a little muddy and could do with a bit more definition and crispness. Whilst not an entirely original album, Darkane have managed to work interesting use of melody and keyboards into their sound without compromising on the intensity, which you could argue has been lost by bands such as In Flames and probably Darkane's closest rivals, Soilwork. Due to this, Darkane have the ability and sound to just about stand out amongst the crowd, and with material like this, it's more than just a possibility. There have been better albums out this year, but for fans of melodic Death or Thrash metal, this album is essential to your collection.