'Where The Angels Fall'
Release Date: April 27th 2015
A new age of metal mastery is upon us...
In the world of Metal Sweden has contributed a great deal over the years, delivering a variety of savage sounds to exhilirate the masses. From Opeth to In Flames, Arch Enemy to HammerFall the country has given us more Metal than we know what to do with, and that's a good thing.
In the 1990s a little something known as the "Gothenberg Sound" emerged when Dark Tranquility and In Flames started producing tracks unlike any that had been heard before. For the first time, melody and aggression were merged together into a beautiful but equally destructive sound. This sound became known as Melodic Death Metal.
And now here we are, in 2015, with hundreds of bands trying to deliver their own vicious recipe of MDM. While admirable, many of these efforts have been missing that unique spark to define themselves from the rest. Until now.
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From the MDM birthplace a three-piece outfit called Mordenial has emerged, releasing a debut album to rival all debut albums. Combining elements of melodic death and thrash, 'Where The Angels Fall' is a delicious treat for anyone with a taste for the extreme.
The Swedish trio have worked solidly since 2008 to produce this studio effort, and upon first listen it is clear that the care and attention-to-detail paid off. Mordenial consists of Matte Fiebig on drums/vocals, Fredrik Nilsson on bass and Kjetil Lynghaug on all guitars.
There's only ever one good place to start and that's at the beginning. As I've always said, the opening track on a debut can be one of the most important for a band as it decides for the listener whether they want to stick around for the rest of the ride.
There are no worries on this front for the Swedish Metallers, as the opening track 'In Dusk I Come' is a real neck-breaker. It opens in the most stylised and Metal way possible with Lynhaug unleashing a dexterous lead riff to melt the very skies above. The rhythm section is incredibly tight, the solos are mind-altering and the vocal sound of Matte Fiebig is just evil. From an instrumental perspective, this track couldn't be more sophisticated – it's as if the band has been around for decades.
The second song on the album is the title track and interestingly the band chooses to pull the tempo right back here with a much more simplistic melody arrangement than the opening thrasher. If anything, one could speculate that this second track shows elements of doom Metal, as the drums rumble along to the slow but sure guitarwork of Lynghaug.
It's always a brave move when a self-defined 'thrash' band brings the tempo down, and tends to shine a more focused light on the content and mood of the song, as opposed to the technicality. Matte Fiebig's vocal chords must be made of steel, as his vocals in this track couldn't be any filthier and vile. As many readers will know, there's nothing we Metal lovers enjoy more than a demonic voice.
When 'Come Inside The Darkness' hits your ears you'd better be ready because it takes a completely different approach than its predecessors. With clear NWOBHM influence in the verse riffs and just a hint of post-grunge in the choruses the experimentation is limitless. Yet somehow it all seems to fit together beautifully, with smooth transitions and a solo from Kjetil Lynghaug that does a heck of a lot in a short space of time.
What came as a surprise towards the end was twenty seconds of pure death-fused punk, where the tempo is amped up to the max, and Fiebig screams his lungs out to to the heavens above. The transitions and time-changes make CITD a track to be remembered in what will hopefully be a long, fruitful career for Mordenial.
The punk aggression is continued in 'Shadow Of The Past', a track which like its predecessor is greatly dynamic. All you can do is cling onto your seat as the three-piece thrash unit storm their way through a whole world of different sounds and styles. It would be impossible to say that they are limited to the labels 'melodic death' or 'thrash', the two terms just give you a rough idea of where these three maniacs are coming from. The soloing is more blues-orientated, but it adds a refreshing different flavour to the song.
Most of the remaining tracks that follow are straightforward thrash masterpieces, so make sure to turn up the volume on your stereo for headbanger's heaven. 'Time To Justify', 'The Edge Of Falling', 'Corrode To Rust' amongst others are guaranteed to give you a reason to bang your head, and the magical thing is that there is little loss in melody with the amped up speed.
When Track Eight comes around the Swedes go back to the groove greatness displayed earlier in the album, sandwiching the relentless thrash nicely in the middle of the CD. This clever track placement seems to give you sufficient recovery time for any neck injuries you might have sustained throughout the album.
'Departure Expire' is much of the same as far as musicality is concerned, until we reach the second-to-last thrasher 'Fire And Wind, Water And Earth'. This track seems very reminiscent of Arch Enemy, with its hook melodies, exotic scales, and the machine-gun drum attack delivered by main man Fiebig. At points I genuinely thought Arch Enemy were playing, but this doesn't make it lacking in any way, shape or form. It's a catchy and memorable track, which for a band just starting out is exactly what you need to get people's attention.
READY THE HORSES, GENERAL! The final track, 'Warfare And Destruction', begins with a crap-load of galloping, a technique used a lot by classic NWOBHM bands to produce the feel of an epic battle or quest. While it begins down-tempo, a bolt of lightning appears to hit Fiebig in the face as he the drum speed hits critical levels.
The change comes out of nowhere and after a minute of this insanity it slows right down again and enters an acoustic section! I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised, what with the amount of experimentation already shown on the album, but it still amazed me nonetheless.
There's so many transitions in this song - slow to fast, heavy to soft, melodic to aggressive - that it would take a lifetime to pick apart piece-for-piece, so my advice to listeners is to sit back and let the magic happen. For a band consisting of just three men, this track is just enormous.
'Where The Angels Fall' is a progressive and immensely admirable debut from a band that has nothing to prove but has proved a great deal. I hope that you buy yourself a copy as soon as this monster is released at the end of April and I equally hope it gets the worldwide recognition it deserves. It's important that we nurture and praise the few bands that dare to be unique, so that our beloved genre and culture can live on.