Slumber - _Fallout_
(Karmageddon Media, 2004)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
Imagine a mixture of early Rapture and Insomnium, with a character very much its own. Alright, maybe you're not familiar with those bands (in which case you should very quickly remedy that situation), so let's put it this way: Slumber are basically a melodic death metal band with a hefty doom metal influence, rather than a more common "proper" melodic doom/death band whose sound is primarily doom metal. In fact, the songs aren't very long and the pace isn't usually slow, and yet these Swedes' keyboard-aided melodic death metal is drenched in doomy elements throughout -- enough to cast doubt on which genre the album will be most successful in, though in all fairness it deserves to succeed in both.

Slumber have only been active since 2002, and _Fallout_ was their debut album in late 2004 (yes, it did take me a while). Young bands frequently sound derivative and simplistic, or else too ambitious and lacking focus; yet Slumber manage to avoid such traps right from the start. Granted, their sound is not unlike anything else; transcending the Rapture and Insomnium reference from the start of this review, one can look beyond those bands and find their own influences, and clearly Slumber have inherited much from the work of other bands in the melodic doom and death metal areas since the '90s. However, it is the final result that speaks for itself, and in wedging themselves between the Rapture's doom and Insomnium's death metal, they have created their own sound and style. (The main riff on closing track "A Wanderer's Star", good as it may be, does sound a lot like Katatonia, though.)

Furthermore, Slumber's debut effort is neither simplistic nor too complex for their own good: each song has plenty of elements and distinct passages to remain sufficiently busy and interesting without losing focus. With a solid production job on its side, impeccable musicianship and a very competent vocal delivery, there is little to fault in _Fallout_. At just under 40 minutes, it is a relatively brief album, but it is concise and doesn't really suffer from being too short. Of course not every track and passage in it is remarkable, and I would also like to see them aim for some more innovation and perhaps a couple of longer tracks on their next effort. For the time being, they have achieved a very good mix, although without quite reaching the best moments Rapture and Insomnium can produce. Nonetheless, _Fallout_ remains a damn enjoyable and dynamic album with a very pleasant doom tinge, and ranks as one of the best surprises of 2004.


(article published 12/9/2005)

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