Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Arch Enemy- War Eternal

"What we've got here is failure to communicate"... No, that's another thing. However, we are not so far from the meaning of this sentence. This new Arch Enemy album is not exactly what I expected. It is not even "real" Death Metal. In some tracks, like You will know my name, or Stolen life, they sound like Power Metal with guttural voices; and, in some others, like No more regrets, they seem to be a failing attempt of Symphonic Metal outfit. Anyway, let's talk about some aspects of this War Eternal.

It starts with a Preludium, which heads what is going to be symphony-like structure. After this first track we can find a series of songs, amongst which we also find the typical instrumental track which acts as a break in the musical continuum of the album and reminds us of previous melodies we have heard. After all, some say music is based upon memory.
Musically, there isn't anything especially interesting to find. There are the usual chaotic riffs that could define a Death Metal band, combined with the melodies which give them the status of Melodic Death. Although some of them are pleasant to be heard (as the melodic lines in War Eternal), some others trespass the boundaries of simplicity, just in order to sound even childish. One really bad point of this work is the excessive use of the same sequence of chords, which make the music seem much less elaborated. Furthermore, all the songs have almost the same structure, with heavy, fast and obscure riffs in their verses and grand melodies for the choruses, making all of it a little bit plain and boring. Only You will know my name sounds a little bit different.
On the other hand, there are the good aspects of the album (not everything was bad). We must remember that it is the first release of Arch Enemy after they changed their vocalist. Alissa perfectly lives up to our expectations, with her strong guttural voice, plenty of wrath when necessary (in On and on, her voice sounds like an epic warcry). Nevertheless, although we can hear some very shy clean backing vocals in songs like Avalanche, I still deeply miss Alissa's ability to shift between clean and guttural vocals. Anyway, she performs great gutturals which she can pitch and tune (something that I haven't heard so many times). Another thing that will not disappoint you is the fast and groovy rhythms of the different riffs we can hear.
The lyrics are another important point in assessing a new album. And, this time, they seem to be the only really good thing of it. Rich in vocabulary and rythm, they transmit exactly what they intend to with an astonishing intensity. Some of them are even catchy, which is always good.
At last, but not least, we must talk about the last song, which is a cover. I guess we can all agree that it perfectly conveys the sound and style of arch enemy. Nonetheless, a lot of details of the original are lost (sound, atmosphere, melodic lines, attitude...). Therefore, I think it was not a good choice to include it.
All in all, I cannot say that War Eternal is a disastrous album. not even bad or very bad. However, deep in my heart I know that it could be much, much more (and much better). I expected more myself. Anyway, I encourage you to give it a try, so that you create your own opinion.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Sabaton- Heroes

Undoubtedly, this new album is a power metal hit by Sabaton. In each song, we can hear the characteristic rhythm patterns of this genre, as well as the typical keyboard and synth sound that makes you think straight of the band. Heavy guitars that sound like the inexorability of a tank, hymnic choruses, and military rythms are, as in every other album, present in Heroes. But there are, too, some details that remind us of other (maybe more melodic) genres.

This is not exactly what we call a conceptual album, where, track by track, a story is told or a single concept developed. However, every song relates to each other, as they describe the most remarkable actions of the different so-called war heroes that fought in the WWII. So, the title of the album perfectly meets the content we can expect to find in it.
Musically, it is worth mentioning the fact that, in songs like Inmate 4859 or The Ballad Of Bull, we can find very classical melodies (maybe reminding us of the baroque or classical style).
On the other hand, although the album in its vast majority is based upon the typical chord sequences (different combinations of the chords of the I, IV and V grades of the natural scale), and this makes the harmony tremendously simple, there are still surprising changes of scale and less typical cadences. In spite of the simplicity, the music gets your attention from the very beginning.
Another positive point would be the use of other instruments, such as the glockenspiel, to compose more delicate melodies, as well as the creation of different atmospheres. For example, in Inmate 4859, the sound turns darker, and heavier, just to convey the sad and hard meaning of the lyrics. We can also name the single, To Hell And Back, whose Indian-like melodies evoke the American lands.
The lyrics are not of less importance. Well written and with extreme accuracy, they tell facts of different countries, from different points of view. It is as though your history book was sung by your favourite band. Sometimes striking (as in Inmate 4859), sometimes catchy (as in To Hell And Back), and sometimes with phrases in other languages (among which Latin is a must-be, but also we find Italian and German), but always a good piece of musical poetry.
At last, we should talk about the three covers included: one of Metallica (For Whom The Bell Tolls), another one of Raubtier (En Hjältes Väg) and the last one of Beast Battle (Out Of Control). The three of them make good versions, although En Hjältes Väg is the best one, due to the similarities between the voices of the two vocalists or the sound of the bands. In Out Of Control, we con perfectly notice that the original voice is too different from Joakim's but it still works good, and Sabaton's versión sounds heavier and with a somehow "thicker" sound. For Whom The Bell Tolls is a good job too, but there is nothing remarkable about it.
Definitely, listening to this album has been a deeply emotional experience, and some songs have reached the very bottom of my heart, even making me cry. However, there is a bad side to it: it wasn't until the second time I listened to it that I started to feel all this things. Moreover, although I think it is a very good job, I still consider Carolus Rex the best album by Sabaton, maybe due to the fact that there is a version recorded in Swedish, which sounds more natural to me. Just to finish, I leave you the video for To Hell And Back, for you to listen.