I've been a fan of this band for a while, and I will get into my interest in them when I do a review of Seediq Bale. Now onto this album.
I remember hearing about when this album was being released, and watching the video for 49 Theugy Chains, and thinking "ok my jaw has just dropped on the floor, and this video kicks ass...this new album should be interesting." And I was right...
This being their 5th studio album, it really does show ALOT of progression...a progression I like to call the "contemporary black metal syndrome". Now listening to their previous efforts, its obvious that the production isn't the best...but to be honest that's kind of what makes black metal so interesting...the production isnt the best, and it adds to the bleak atmosphere of their music...now like Dimmu Borgir's Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and Cradle Of Filths Midian... a similar method was used in the progression of the production...guitars turned up, keyboards and orchestration in line with the mix and a bit over bearing at times, and the vocals as crisp as you can imagine. And it really worked for this album, because the band did have a sort of change of direction...
Now the direction change is pretty obvious, with the black metal elements being toned down and allowing more death metal and extreme elements to take over (and at times...metalcore oddly enough). But having said that, all the Chthonic elements are still their..."shrieking vocals, heavy guitars, beautiful keyboards, hanting urhu, oriental elements and great songs.
Now what also adds an added texture to this album, is the concept. Now, Seediq Bale is also a concept album, but this one is more highlighted, with a more visual story and less left up to interpretation. The concept is an amazing story about a bloody massacre, someone traveling to the underworld, ghosts, ghost kings and HELL!!! Theirs a very epic story and I would tell you it, but I seriously recomend you buy this album in order to learn more. And the ending is very chilling indeed.
I think one of the main highlights of this album is the vocals. Freddy's vocals are amazing. From high shireks to low growls, eerie whispers to massive shouts, he can do it all. The lyrics are also a great highlight, being more English than the last one (very little Tawiwanesse...i think thats the language, could be Cantoneese, but I'm poorly educated in Oriental languages I'm afraid...just don't say it's Chinese or they will ripp your face off). These guys are pretty interesting, cause from watching interviews they can speak fluent English...and it's very rare to see that from Oriental bands.
1. Autoscopy - Very disturbing. Creates the perfect atmopshere for the album. 9/10
2. Blooming Blades - What a hit in the face. Incredibly twisted yet quite beautiful at times. Great chorus and use of vocals. Maintains constant power throughout. 10/10
3. Hearts Condemned - Very Cradle Of Filth. Great chorus. The lyrics tell a great story throughout (as they do throughout the rest of the album) haha. The guitar sound is very in your face. 9/10
4. Venom In My Veins - What an awesome name for a song haha. Kick ass metal riffs and a pretty nifty chorus. One of the most straightfoward songs on the album. Has quite a punky edge to it. 10/10
5. The Aroused - Love the atmosphere of this song. It's quite dark at times. Great arrangement. 9/10
6. Sing-Ling Temple - Love that haunting keyboard riff. Great arrangement and such power and drama throughout. 10/10
7. 1947 - Very beautiful and atmospheric. Reminds me of the music from Karate Kid. 10/10
8. 49 Theugy Chains - OMG!!! YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS SONG. This song is just epic and one of the greatest metal songs I've heard in ages. Such a powerful anthem and so in your face, yet being so interesting throughout. Great lyrics too. Basically I love this song and will never tire of it. 10/10
9. Rise Of The Shadows - Such a powerfulk and kick ass song. Very frantic, with every beat like a punch in the face. Great lyrics too. 10/10
10. Bloody Waves Of Sorrow - Love the dramatic arrangement. Great use of vocals. Nice poetic terms used at times, especially the stuff about the moon, I liked that. 9/10
11. Spell Of Setting Sun: Mirror Of Retribution - A very dark and twisted ending in my opinion, yet being quite epic at the same time. Really cool when relating to the concept. 9/10
CONCLUSION: It's not the best metal album ever, but it's better than most crap out now. Their new album seems pretty interesting too, but have yet to hear it. But I reccomend this album to everyone, just for the concept alone...oh yea, theirs amazing songs on it too. So it's a bonus