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Shadecrown - Agonia Award winner

Shadecrown
Agonia
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 11 February 2017, 2:18 PM

SHADECROWN is a great Melodic Death Metal band.  Their sound  has a Doom Metal influence as well, adding a depressive layer of melodic meloncholy to an already solid foundation.  They definitely remind me of  DAYLIGHT DIES and a more heavy SENTENCED; they are very heavy on atmosphere. The opening track, "Eremophobia" just drips with atmosphere, very bleak but with a tinge of hope.  The beginning has clean guitar, almost pretty in the despair.  The heavy guitars kick in, bringing slow doom but very crushing.  The song once again slows down with clean keyboards illumanting the dark before it goes back into the metal, beginning with an amazing showing from Jari, with his deep throated growls.

Jario Hokka’s Death vocals are a very heavy growl, almost scary in places.  His voice reminds me of OPETH’s Mikael; his growls are very meaty but you can also make out what he saying. His vocals working in unison with the guitars are just amazing.  There is nothing better than hearing Jari growl over melodic guitar, perfectly bringing together heavy and light elements into one cohesive sound. However, the band isn't afraid to step back from their melodic death/doom approach and bring in some fury.  "Ghostlike Existence" starts off like it might continue that sound but then it bursts into some mid tempo but effective riffing courtesy of Vesamaki and Niemonen that is more close to thrash than melodic death. The two can play anything, and they can do it at a moments notice, going from death, to doom, to clean….their sound is a whirlwind of musical emotions but it never seems too progressive or random.   Turning on a musical dime, the duo quickly slows things down and bring a very heavy riff that carries the song until about the 2:10 mark where it turns into a catchy as hell head banging riff.

The song gets even better when the guitars cut out, leaving the keyboards to create a melodic layer for Jari’s vocals to ride upon. Speaking of keys, Saku really knows his way around. Much like DARK TRANQUILLITY'S Martin, his keys don't rely on symphonic overtones or walls of epic passage.  His approach is more subtle, prefering clean piano or light atmospheric tones to create a justifiable etheral feel. Janne’s bass is a treat, melodic and yet heavy when it needs to be.  However, the production, which leans towards presenting the keys and vocals up front, doesn't give a lot of room for him to showcase his chops, unless the song focuses on clean passage.   He also does the clean vocals, which can make or break a death metal band but he does it right.  They aren't too clean like a metalcore band would use and sound more like something SWALLOW THE SUN would do, a clear but rough approach.  His cleans also don't hog the show or constantly alternate with the death vocals.  They are used sparingly, never taking the focus away from Jarri.

Kalle, like any good metal drummer, provides a constant stream of support.  Even during the lighter moments of the album, this guy always has something interesting to play.  He is very intense but not in a constantly pounding of the skins way but more in a focused way, always propelling the band forward. This album was certainly an enjoyable ride and a great way for melodic death metal to start it's year.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Eremophobia
2. Led Astray
3. Ghostlike Existence
4. Far off Innoncence
5. Walk Through Hell
6. Longing For Sleep
7. The Ruins Of Me
8. Tear – Stained Heart
9. Silent Hours
10. Drown
Lineup:
Jari Hokka – Vocals
Joonas Vesamaki – Guitar
Riku Niemonen – Guitar
Saku Tammelin – Keyboards
Janne Salmelin – Bass & Clean Vocals
Kalle Varonen – Drums
Record Label: Inverse Records
     


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