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Oxidize - Dark Confessions

Dark Confessions
by Kira Schlechter at 12 July 2020, 4:37 AM

Gothenburg continues to crank out the Metal, but in OXIDIZE’s case, it’s cranking up the melodic aspects on their debut album “Dark Confessions” – which to be honest, aren’t terribly dark. The lead-off track, “Heading For Tomorrow,” is a decent start, rooted in a simple but sweet-sounding riff. Anton’s voice is a nice snarl with fine vibrato and a piercing scream. The chorus is melodic and hopeful, with plenty of layered vocals, and there’s a nice low-end harmony there that could be brought forward a little more. Anton plays a little with descants in the last go-round. The bridge is a little off-track and awkward rhythmically, but it goes back to that memorable riff that morphs into a solo section. It’s about forgetting the past and moving on (“We are heading for tomorrow/We are heroes of today”), no matter what doubts or second thoughts you have.

Three “relationship” songs sprinkled in sadly fall a bit flat. “Bleeding Heart” is catchy and bouncy and pleasant enough, but doesn’t really stand out. The lyrics are a little cliched and repetitive and it goes on a little too long. “Not An Angel” has heavy verses but less weighty choruses and borders on pop metal. And “Tell Me Why” is unabashedly a piano ballad? Anton goes from croon to growl to scream and it gets darker, then it’s back to the lighter treatment in the chorus. It seems like two songs stapled together that had no business being together – it’s well played and all but it just sits funny.

“Revolution” is built on an interesting atonal detuned riff, and the section before the second verse builds suspense. But there’s a solo transition that loses momentum and the chorus is a little strange melodically. The lyrics personify the idea of revolution (“I am a beast of change,” “I will turn the masters into slaves”), but it doesn’t do much with the idea, just postures and threatens with no real punch. “Hey Angel” swings repeatedly from ballady to screamo and it’s jarring (the latter part is better, of course). There’s a bridge that doesn’t really fit, and the chorus is repeated too many times before it comes to a close. The slow part might have been an OK ending had it not appeared in weird places before.There’s several references here, but none is exactly clear – is this a suicide, a person who’s just gone off the rails? It’s uncertain.

The title track has a straightforward groove and Anton is back to the deep, liquidy part of his register. But don’t put a death metal growl in the prechorus – it doesn’t make you death metal and it’s very much at odds with the “whoa-ohs” going on around it. Mika shows off some nicely varied drumming on this one, though. “Titanic” is crunchy and heavy, but the chorus changes the mood. The wording is off again, too – in this, in the title track, and at several other points, I mentally cut words out and found the flow was better and the meaning didn’t change. The final punchline in the chorus is effective; the lead-in is not. It’s a clever analogy, comparing the Titanic to the world at large – the first verse is vivid, but would be more so if better expressed (“How many dreams were turned to dust through days of history/Our ship of fools is moving fast, advancing on its darkest trip/Engines are roaring in the night and everything seems fine/The captain orders a glass of wine, to calm strange feelings deep inside” – see? Too many words but a good idea.)

“Devil In Disguise” has a promising start and a solid groove, and Anton’s retro chops are on full display – he does have a pleasant enough seductive purr in parts, though. But the chorus has a strange ebb and flow and doesn’t make the powerful impact it should – the “selling your soul to the devil” scenario is again bogged down by too many words in odd places. There are redeeming tracks along the way, though. “Coma” has a sharp, snappy rhythm and lots of double kicking. While other tracks go on too long, this one makes its point, gets in and gets out. Lyrically, it might be about a prison of the mind, alternating between the pessimism of the verses (“My guardian angel sheds a tear for me in vain” and “I am so lost within myself that I forgot my way home”) and the optimism of the chorus (“I see the light again/I’m fighting until the end”).

The bright-sounding “Anti-Hero” might have a lightweight chorus but it’s got a charming wryness to it – “So here I am, the anti-hero of the day/I keep coming back/So here I am, just just someone who tries to find a way/A reason to fight and stay.” When Anton sings just that one line, “anti-hero of the day,” it’s kind of resigned, like, well, here I go again. The solo has a chipper, cheery quality and there’s a nice sing-along part at the fadeout. And the closer, “Crucify Me” is a nice chug, no problems musically, and much better in the lyrical flow department – they are capable of being more immediate and punchy, they just don’t always choose to be. The Jesus theme is a little heavy-handed, with the narrator kind of comparing himself to, well, Him, in the savior reference, but it’s not bad as a closing note.

All told, some honing and editing – and a rethinking of their exact subgenre – would not go amiss for OXIDIZE.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Heading For Tomorrow
2. Bleeding Heart
3. Coma
4. Not An Angel
5. Tell Me Why
6. Revolution
7. Anti Hero
8. Hey Angel
9. Dark Confessions
10. Titanic
11. Devil In Disguise
12. Crucify Me
Anton Darusso - Vocals
Per Stalfors - Guitar
Niklas Karlsson - Guitar
Kaj Leissner - Bass
Mika Vaino - Drums
Record Label: Wormholedeath


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Edited 13 June 2021

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