MEADOWS END — The Sufferwell (review)

MEADOWS END — The Sufferwell album cover Album · 2014 · Melodic Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
J-Man
Like many other "sub-subgenres" in metal, symphonic death metal has tons of untapped potential in my view. Though a couple fleshy bands like Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse have garnered a fanbase for this style of music, it has yet to see the same level of fertility and diversity as the symphonic variant of black metal, for instance. Enter Meadows End, a band from Sweden that has been active since the late nineties', but only began releasing full-length albums with 2010's Ode to Quietus. While they can easily be labeled symphonic death metal alongside the aforementioned fleshy bands, Meadows End is a bit unique in their approach. Meadows End's foundation borrows heavily from melodic, and even progressive, death metal - something that hasn't been fully explored in a symphonic death metal context, perhaps other than by the Netherlands' Mayan. This unique approach to a criminally underpopulated subgenre is placed alongside brilliant songwriting and delivery on 2014's The Sufferwell, and the result is nothing short of astounding.

In many ways, the music on The Sufferwell reminds me of Finland's Omnium Gatherum - while perhaps more aggressive than these Finnish masterminds, the entire record has a melancholic and atmospheric vibe, rather than the dark and evil mindset typically associated with death metal. This works excellently in a symphonic context, and the fact that Meadows End also knows how to craft some damn catchy compositions makes this a winner on all fronts. Though the strongest tracks here (in my view, at least) are the most progressive ones like the stunningly epic "Insurrection" and the fist-pumping "Masses Flee", this is a record of all killer, no filler. Great melodeath tunes like "Devilspeed Loathekill" or "Funeral of a Porcelain Doll", as well as the beautiful female-led folk song "Under A Canopy of Stars", showcase the band's strengths in more conventional songwriting.

Meadows End are the real deal when it comes to epic, symphonic, and melodic death metal - don't be fooled by The Sufferwell's self-released status, as this is a fully professional sounding album with some top-shelf musicianship to boot. I really hope fans of bands like Omnium Gatherum, Septicflesh, Xanthochroid, and Insomnium take the time to check this one out, as it is one of the strongest albums that I've heard in 2014. A true hidden gem!
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