athornOriginality is often scarce in metal these days as most topics have been covered in one shape or another via various genre platforms. Conceptually raking the undead subgenre via a different premise of impending annihilation with subsequent effects after a meteorite impact whereby humankind becomes the undead or as the promo puts it, the living dead. Headed by the highly experienced Carsten Frank, he handles much of the artistic input including arrangements and vocals, but more on the latter later.

It is six years since the band’s debut and I had high hopes for an album of spectacular proportions but came away from it feeling thoroughly let down. The opening intro, “11111011000”, sets the scene extremely well with a newsfeed telling of impending obliteration as the dramatic build up is film score like before “Another Day In Hell” launches the album into power thrashing realms and is also the track chosen for a video. Initially I was lured in with the bands rapid fire riffing, multi-faceted vocal styles and decent percussive elements which include blast beats used sporadically. Continuing with “The Dark Breed” the use of modernised riffing chunks is obvious with double kick rhythms being used well enough as a vast array of tempo fluctuations are used to create a melodramatic feel overall.

My biggest problem with this album is the vocals, which are tonally good but the delivery sounds forced with crooning sections being particularly cringe worthy. “Forgotten Souls” and “Ghost Brigade” being a couple of culprits or victims of this depending on your point of view. Musically the former tune has some similarities to Sentenced’s mid era period and the latter possessing modernised groove riffing as the vocals attempt to inject emotion and a feeling of grandeur which come across as banal and trite. I would have preferred this whole album to have been done with harsh vocals than clean if I’m honest. “Path Of Sorrow” is nauseating, the elongated clean vocal notes are just plain annoying and detract from the riffing which is very good in itself. Under sufferance listening to this a few times I was drawn to comparisons of Nevermore and some aspects of Dark Tranquillity due to the riffing melodies which I enjoyed most.

“Final Destination” begins very nicely with a semi acoustic piece and accompanying drum fill build up which is jutted against a modern riff that announces itself like a gate crasher. Vocally this one is more comfortable, suitable to the melody with the harsh bellows linking nicely with the clean aspects which here are less cringing. The thrashy “End Of Days” increases the pace momentarily and listens a little better though the deluge in vocal styles is confused with one style after another quickly changing making the tune a little disordered. Closing the album is “Of Pawns And Dragons”, a seven minute foray into atmospherics with spacey effects adorning the doom filled riff and slow funereal drums. Again the clean vocals sound extremely forced and unnatural which isn’t a criticism of the obvious singing ability as they’re very accomplished. As the track gathers momentum there are good riff changes and surges in speed including blast phases which I can understand their inclusion to demonstrate aggression but offer little to the overall ethos of the album.

I really wanted to enjoy this album much more than I have, and maybe it will grow on me but for the moment it has left me with little to savour.

(6/10 Martin Harris)