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Issue 58 - Extreme Review Special

Discussion in 'Songs To Watch' started by Demonspell, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. Demonspell

    Demonspell cheating the polygraph

    Apr 29, 2001
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    dead between the walls
    Figure Number 58 – Extreme Review Special
    Written April 11-12, 2003 - recent additions:
    Alchemist – Single Sided
    Echosilence – Straight Circle
    Prymary – Tearing Through Weakness
    Wolverine – Towards Loss

    Greetings devoted readers…what follows are five track by track summaries of recently released albums. A standard issue will be posted within the next week or two.

    Prelimary song list:

    Opeth – Damnation overview:
    • Windowpane: The opener sets the pace for this album with its warm acoustic guitars and mellotron, but it also carries the same dread and emotional weight of Opeth’s heaviest moments, resulting in a composition as epic as anything they have done. It even contains a brief drum solo! Martin’s work can be as powerful in this context as it is when blazing through Deliverance…
    • In My Time Of Need: Another beautifully delicate track, especially the way Mikael carefully delivers each syllable on the verses…echoes of early King Crimson appear on this and several other tracks on the album.
    • Death Whispered A Lullaby: This track combines acoustic verses reminiscent of Porcupine Tree with dissonant guitar solos, and at its center contains one of the most memorable choruses in the Opeth catalogue.
    • Closure: A pronounced departure for Opeth with its hypnotic Arabic-themed instrumental passages which give this one a doomy feel. This is the one with the infamous abrupt ending…
    • Hope Leaves: For me the least impressive song on this album, but still as lush and melancholic as what surrounds it.
    • To Rid The Disease: Another excellent track, featuring a stark closing section led by an eerie piano figure, and a superb chorus borrowing from Mikael’s Sorskogen project. Also of note is the more upfront bass playing.
    • Ending Credits: A melodic instrumental that may seem out of place amidst the predominantly downcast songs on this album, but the guitar lines, which pay homage to Camel’s Andy Latimer, are infectious.
    • Weakness: This languid, organ-led track provides an appropriately mournful coda to the album, and Mikael’s whispered vocals add to its minimalistic power.
    Katatonia – Viva Emptiness overview:
    • Ghost Of The Sun: The album opener immediately introduces us to Katatonia’s new direction, where the melodies are often overshadowed by the heavy sections, but the band rarely abandons that key strength, and this song is one of direct impact. Highlights here include the ghostly bridge and the backing screams on the chorus.
    • Sleeper: Like many songs on this album, it starts off with a typical Katatonia verse before building in intensity and climaxing with a cathartic chorus where the “dirty sound” comes in…contains some disturbing lyrics.
    • Criminals: Despite the fact that Jonas sounds awkward when saying “fucker” in each prechorus, this is a powerful track, and I especially love the reverberating guitars in the chorus.
    • A Premonition: An unsettling lullaby of sorts, featuring an unusual effect on the verses…one of many tracks on this album that show a willingness to experiment.
    • Will I Arrive: One of several tracks where the melodies and the noisier guitars complement each other to great effect, creating a claustrophobic effect, and the descending feel of the verses add to this song’s emotional pull.
    • Burn The Remembrance: Drummer Daniel Liljekvist takes a greater profile on this album, particularly this percussion heavy track, which also has a simple but effective guitar line and a powerful coda. This song proves they can be just as atmospheric in a much heavier context.
    • Wealth: The part where Jonas intones over a highly discordant riff is striking, but here the dynamics between the heavy and slower parts are lacking in cohesion…
    • One Year From Now: A definite standout, this slow burning ballad contains some excellent string accompaniment and a heavy section that completely reverses the mood of the song.
    • Walking By A Wire: This and the following track bear little resemblance to the Katatonia that produced Tonight’s Decision (or Brave Murder Day for that matter), but contain a heavy dose of elemental power. Excellent prechorus on this one, and the riffs crush.
    • Complicity: The verses are a resonating highlight, and the feedback-drenched bridge is also highly memorable. Jonas’ early favorite from the album.
    • Evidence: The unofficial first single from the album, and a good choice as it captures their direction for this album well, and has a huge chorus (two of them actually, including the highly effective coda).
    • Omerta: This lilting, folksy track is an anomaly amidst this album’s heavier content, but it has a great melody and the chorus will stay trapped in your head, and it builds up nicely to its sudden ending…
    • Inside The City Of Glass: The circle closes with this dark, foreboding instrumental, which nods in the direction of their past while fitting perfectly into this album’s overall picture.
    Devin Townsend – Accelerated Evolution overview
    • Depth Charge: A raging yet carefully constructed opener, which establishes the potency of the all-new lineup on this album, punctuated with memorable screams from Devin.
    • Storm: see previous entry
    • Random Analysis: Driven by a stomping lead riff and bitingly sarcastic lyrics, this song, like the best on Terria and Ocean Machine, combines Townsend’s aggressive side with his progressive leanings, which show up on this song’s midsection, to great effect.
    • Deadhead: The longest song on the album, containing a huge chorus and a powerful riff that gradually build up into an expansive yet immediate track. Devin is at his best here.
    • Suicide: see previous entry
    • Traveller: A simpler song than the three that precede it, this ode to life on the road shows off Devin’s incredibly strong melodic sense.
    • Away: A spacious and mostly instrumental track that brilliantly shows off Devin’s ability to create atmosphere through waves of sound, especially those hypnotic guitar lines.
    • Sunday Afternoon: Constructed similarly to the last track and just as beautiful in its peak moments, although with a greater vocal presence, where a line that would normally sound banal (“I will wait for you”) takes on a remarkable insistence.
    • Slow Me Down: This song contains a surprisingly high degree of pop accessibility, but Devin puts enough conviction and dedication into it to make it highly substantial and fit perfectly in the framework of this excellent album.
    Soilwork – Figure Number Five overview:
    • Rejection Role: The album’s opening track and video sets the pace for the album, picking up where NBC left off, although with considerably less abandon, setting an unfortunate precedent…
    • Overload: Perahps the album’s finest track, where Sven’s keyboards do much to distinguish the proceedings and the chorus is highly effective and all the other elements fall into place…
    • Figure Number Five: Presumably an attempt to recapture the aggression of the first few albums, which ends up sounding more unfocused than intended…
    • Strangler: Despite having a rare (although unimpressive) solo and more impressive keyboards, this track is for the most part a stinker, and Speed’s backing screams on the prechorus annoy me to no end…
    • Light The Torch: Another track that superficially resembles the best songs on NBC but falls short of that album’s quality.
    • Departure Plan: To further fuel the ire of fans, this one is a power ballad, with noticeable commercial overtones! Perversely enough, it’s one of the album’s guilty pleasures for me at least, the chorus is addictive, and the strummed solo stands out.
    • Cranking The Sirens: This song does live up to its title by increasing the energy level, and it is one of the better structured songs on the album.
    • Brickwalker: Another rotten one, falling prey to “the rote riff with nothing to support it” syndrome.
    • The Mindmaker: Verses in this one strongly resemble the percussive-led pace on Needlefeast, and the chorus is memorable, Speed’s clean vocals being one of the few things that haven’t suffered.
    • Distortion Sleep: Again, this track does little to distinguish itself and relies on the more obvious moves in the melodic death genre…
    • Downfall 24: The intro does a good job of setting the pace, but as on the last track the riff and chorus seem forced, again giving me the impression of a watered down Natural Born Chaos.
    Solefald – In Harmonia Universali overview:
    • Nutrisco Et Extinguo: Opening with acoustics that quickly give way to a tapestry of sound and this duo’s trademark counterpoint vocals, this track prepares you for the insanely detailed arrangements on this always experimental and often brilliant album.
    • Mont Blanc Providence Crow: Relying on the overlapping of organ and metallic riffing over which the vocal arrangements dominate, this is the most accessible song on the album.
    • Christiania: Spiraling guitar lines and excellent use of classical piano are a consistent feature over this song’s eight-minute length.
    • Epictetus And Irreversibility: One of the few songs here to feature purely death vocals as opposed to the throaty ones employed throughout, this begins fairly close to the band’s BM roots before exploring numerous variations on the main theme.
    • Dionysify This Night Of Spring: The title is repeated several times in a surprisingly catchy chanted vocal. Musically, this is firmly in progressive territory, and features saxophone and some excellent instrumental sections.
    • Red Music Diabolos: Bookended by a siren-like effect, this instrumental gives some breathing room between the often challenging pieces and bizarre vocal arrangements, and includes some deft keyboard runs.
    • Buy My Sperm: Another relatively normal (by this band’s standards anyway) track with hilarious lyrics, relying on the vocal theatrics and organ-dominated arrangements.
    • Fraternite De La Grande Lumiere: Built around a strange sax/drum/organ interplay, this is one of the more impenetrable pieces on the album (the French lyrics add to this), although the harmonic guitar lines are impressive and the proceedings never get boring.
    • The Liberation Of Destiny: It begins with an excellent acoustic guitar intro, which is later reprised amidst contrast from the heavy sections to great effect. Between this there are some great chanted vocals and satirical lyrics.
    • Sonnenuntergang Im Weltraum: Opening with a sinister whisper, this song moves at a dirge tempo before a guitar line that switches between channels signals the second half, in which the heavy sections alternate with atonal piano interludes, finally closing with acoustic guitar, all in under five minutes. Title translates to Sunset In Space.
    Where to find the music on the Net:

    Opeth - In My Time Of Need:
    Opeth - Death Whispered A Lullaby:
    Katatonia - Criminals:
    Katatonia - A Premonition:
    Devin Townsend - Storm & Suicide:
    Devin Townsend - Depth Charge:
    Soilwork - Rejection Role:
    Soilwork - Figure Number Five:
    Solefald - Mont Blanc Providence Crow:
    Solefald - Epictetus:

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