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Dethlehem - Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon Award winner

Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon
by Rob Stone at 07 September 2020, 7:11 AM

The character shown by DETHLEHEM from the offset is very attractive. A band that has released consistent amounts of material in a genre that is not usually shone a light on such as Epic Melodic Death Metal. The band refers to themselves as a Dungeons and Dragons session that came to life and became a band, which will surely pique the interest of any self-proclaimed nerds in the metal community. Everything from the naming of tracks and band members all the way to the artwork just reeks of fun, and no matter how it may sound, it is oh so easy to get someone wanting to at least try it out and give it a chance.

The album opener, “A Tale That Time Forgot”, is much more than what many may expect from the description above. What I assumed would be cheesy power metal with screaming turned out to be a CHILDREN OF BODOM-esque track that had powerful screaming vocals over lightning quick guitar and drum work. Complete with just a dash of synth work to finish it off and absolutely incredible production. Forget everything about fun once the music starts, this album means business. An entire review could be written on just the first track alone. Every mood from CRADLE OF FILTH all the way to BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE comes to mind on first listen. It is such a mashup of so many different flavors that it becomes its own unique sound. This is the freshest sounding metal band that has yet to become successful.

Return to the Halls of Madness” has a much thrashier sounding main riff, played with precision. The breaks in the instrumentals are tight and the vocals are perfectly executed. The chorus guitar lines manage to be catchier than most pop music despite being the only melodic part of that section. The breakdown riff is unexpected and brief before entering a slight cool down with a clean guitar solo soaring over top. The epic factor is certainly not forgotten by the band.

Every song follows a similar formula and yet that formula is so complex that each song remains unique in its own right. “Mind Flayer” is no exception. The lead single for the album, it certainly represents the album as a whole but only scratches the surface of what can be offered on the remainder. “Escape from Wolf Mountain” has an intro so epic that it would literally be the soundtrack to a Dungeons and Dragons battle brought to life. The intensity is so high and yet the reigns are quickly pulled into a more subdued yet still mercilessly heavy verse section. The lead guitar work is virtuosic but without showing off. It is fast and complex yet it feels like it belongs and wasn’t just thrown in there to show off the guitarist's skills.

Gelatinous Cube Labyrinth” is yet another epic intro that ups the ante again. Somehow the album is getting better and better as it progresses and it’s shocking. This is the sound of a band that is massive and known by everyone. The dilemma exists: do we all share the band around to make them as successful as they deserve, or do we keep them to ourselves as a secret that we dare not share? The fact remains that it’s shocking they haven’t reached that success to begin. The final track, “The Emerald Dragon”, is what the whole album has been building up to. A D&D campaign that is reaching its epic climax. Everything about the song absolutely reeks of “final boss battle” and it is at this point that it can finally be said.

This is, without a doubt, the best album I have heard this year. Every element is immaculate. The vocalist is diverse, ranging from powerful screams to emotional cleans, the incredible guitar riffs and solos, the bass working as a perfect back bone to support every other instrument is not gone unnoticed either. The drums are incredibly tight and the drummer is an absolute machine. The production, the story, everything makes this a band that should be listened to by literally every metal fan.

Memorability: 10
Production: 10
Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Prelude – As Fate Would Have It
2. A Tale That Time Forgot
3. Interlude I – Cloud Megalopolis
4. Return to the Halls of Madness
5. Mind Flayer
6. Interlude II – Task for the Bog Witch
7. Escape from Wolf Mountain
8. Beware the Mimic
9. Interlude III – A Ravenous Storm
10. On the Backs of Giants
11. Gelatinous Cube Labyrinth
12. Interlude IV – Welcome to Your Doom
13. The Emerald Dragon
Overlord Brom – Drums
Bovice – Guitars
Brutalitus the Bloodbeard – Vocals
Grimshaw Longfellow – Bass
Record Label: Independent


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