Canopy - _Serene Catharsis_
(Disconcert Music, 2006)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (8.5 out of 10)
Following up a pair of promising EPs (both of which can be downloaded for free in their entirety at the band's website -- see above link), Canopy are back with an ambitious debut in the classic Swedish death vein. The first of those EPs saw legendary countryman Dan Swano wet his beak a bit, contributing a guitar solo and background vocals to one track, and fittingly enough Edge of Sanity are a primary touchstone in Canopy's bouillabaisse of influences.

_Serene Catharsis_ as a whole is more concerned with creating a progressive, moody tour de force than it is with merely rocking out, and as such a straight comparison with the Gothenburg sound or other Scandinavian metal styles is a bit too reductionist in scope to be truly apt. "The Bleeding Earth", while not the best song on the album, is -- at nine minutes -- the de facto centerpiece: a moody, weighty pontification on decay, it meanders a bit in getting its point across, but other, more succinct tracks work their mojo much more successfully. "Subtle" walks that tightrope between taking the time to nurse wounded melodies through their convalescence and lashing out in frustrated determination. "Firmament Part I" is moodier still, with an almost gothic ambience underpinning its doom-like leanings. Not so with sequel "Firmament Part II", a Swede death workout that offers welcome respite from the plodding first installment.

"Concentric" displays principal songwriter Jonatan Hedlin's most masterful grasp of melody, and the guest vocals from Antonio Ravina da Silva are a nice change of pace. If a video or single was released from this album, "Concentric" would almost certainly have to be the first pick. And yet, the biggest strength here is how well _Serene Catharsis_ works as a whole, with everything from mid-tempo, prog-laced songs to slower, ambient studies to red lined death metal frenzy, the album metamorphoses too quickly and too often for any but the most intellectually indigent to lose interest.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing of all concerning Canopy is the average age of its members: barely old enough to drink, with 26 year old lead singer Fredrik Huldtgren being the "elder" of the group. With Jonatan Hedlin listing everyone from Lemmy to Steve Vai to Tim Drake as influences (in addition to the expected Scandinavian greats), that's a mighty big grasp of the musical spectrum to bring to the table. 2007 finds Canopy just beginning in their stab at the brass ring.


(article published 25/5/2007)

3/28/2011 P Azevedo 8.5 Canopy - Menhir
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