Council of the Fallen - _Deciphering the Soul_
(Season of Mist, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (7 out of 10)
With the exception of last year's outstanding Vital Remains effort, Myrtle Beach-based Council of the Fallen are one of the few bands to describe their music as melodic death metal without actually adopting the staid by-the-numbers folk-infused approach of their Swedish counterparts. Instead, _Deciphering the Soul_ is a record seeped in American death metal tradition, and Eric Rutan's presence as producer only serves to emphasize and underline this fact. It's not only Rutan's work that connects these guys to Hate Eternal, however: Tim "The Missile" Yeung, one-time ├╝ber-sticksman on HE's debut effort, lays down some fairly relentless, if slightly uninspired blasting from the comfort of the drum stool. But it is ultimately the melodies that have the most prominent role in the enjoyment of songs like "No Vision of Prophecy" and "Resurgence". Drawing from a decidedly classical school of consonance, the bleak euphony present for the duration of the record propel _Deciphering the Soul_ into almost black metal territory on more than one occasion. This ultimately lends the album its primary voice and creates an overall feeling of grandiosity -- though not quite in the same league as a band like Nile. Curiously, given the extent to which CotF's music almost invites their presence, solos are in short supply, with precious few tracks exploring any sort of progressive lead work whatsoever. While I am hardly a supporter of throwing in a solo just for the sake of it, _Deciphering the Soul_ is clearly an album that would benefit greatly from this added dynamic. It would certainly be more welcome than the clean vocals used on tracks like "Distant Memories", which instead of adding variety to the fairly standard vocal performance, end up sounding contrived and... well, just quite lame. Thankfully though, this is the only mediocre ingredient in a cocktail that at its best can be pretty damn potent.


(article published 11/8/2004)

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