Dead Blue Sky - _Symptoms of an Unwanted Emotion_
(Goodlife, 2001)
by: Brian Meloon (9 out of 10)
Like the Indian fable about the blind men trying to figure out what an elephant is, knowing only some of the facts about this album will lead you to wildly inaccurate conclusions. Based upon the cover art and the band and album names, you'd be tempted to think this is ambient or Projekt-style goth-lite music. Based upon the facts that the band are American (from Ohio, actually) and this is released on a hardcore label, you'd probably expect a completely different sound. And should you actually listen only to the music, you may be convinced they hail from Sweden and feature some former members of Miscreant. In fact, all of these facts hold only partial truths. The music is a mix of atmospheric and melodic death metal with rasped lead vocals and ethereal female backing vocals. These contrasting styles are mixed throughout nearly all of the songs, allowing them to accentuate each other. In an impressive display of songwriting prowess, the band are able to maintain the flow of the songs, with nary a jarring transition to be found and only the 13-minute instrumental title track being overly repetitive. The metallic parts feature tremolo-picked harmonized guitar lines and riffs that emphasize melody over heaviness. Some of these sections bear a remarkable similarity to those done by Miscreant over 8 years ago, whereas others are more original, but all of them are well-done. The softer parts rely on keyboards, acoustic guitars, and/or female vocals, and are varied in their style and duration. The drumming in general is very impressive, as the drummer works hard to keep any sections from getting too repetitive by throwing in fills or even completely changing the rhythmic structure under the repeated guitar riffs. Some may find his style "too busy", but I feel that it provides a needed diversity, and fits the flow of the music. In contrast to this, the guitar and bass work is solid but restrained. This is heavily guitar-driven music, with the keyboards serving mainly to provide atmosphere and accentuate or provide counterpoint to certain guitar lines. Overall, I'm very impressed by this debut effort, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. This release should be enjoyed both by hardcore/metalcore fans who enjoy a more melodic approach as well as fans of melodic and atmospheric death metal.


(article published 21/3/2003)

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