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Shadecrown - Riven Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 11 September 2019, 6:28 AM

Melodic Doom/Death Metal sextet SHADECROWN formed in Finland in 2012. They release their debut in 2016, titled “Agonia.” “Riven” is the band’s sophomore release, and contains eight tracks. “Not Until the End” leads off the album, with doleful piano notes and some background ambiance. The main riff hits and I am immediately reminded of INSOMNIUM and SWALLOW THE SUN. Hokka’s vocals are dark and growly…more like SCAR SYMMETRY. Some semi-cleans come into play in the chorus, along with harmonized guitars. Some light symphonic elements also enter the fray and it seems the band has thought of everything in their sound.

“Lifelong Dying” opens with melancholic clean guitar notes that are charged with emotion. From there, there is a slow and powerful grind fueled by Hokka’s guttural vocals and some harmonized lead guitars. “Rain’s Edge” opens with a steady thumping of bass drum followed by a mid-tempo paced riff. The sound is absolutely commanding, but the piano parts temper the heaviness with their light and delicate touch. That balance between aggressiveness and beauty is on full display here. “The Ghost I Mourn” is the shortest song on the album, clocking in at just over four minutes. A traditional guitar riff opens the song but is quickly replaced by a graceful one that breathes in the chorus. The passage after the second chorus is wonderful as the song really picks up with passion and excitement.

“Incomplete” opens with clean guitars that take you to another world in the opening, and then the main riff drops like an asteroid from the sky. Clean vocals provide contrast to the devastating sound of the harsh vocals. It’s very doomy, like witnessing the final sunset on a world about to end. “Hate Reflected” opens with a slow and heavy groove. There is a bright rose within the cold and dark landscape here. The melody really shines here in the song nicely. “Divided” is the longest song on the album, at over seven minutes in length. It opens with a slow and doleful cadence and then a key change takes the song up another level with some emotional peaks. Amidst the heavy vocals there are some light atmospheric elements, and that lead guitar passage is brilliant. The ambient passage towards the end is beautiful as well.

“Races” closes the album, with clean guitars that have a depressing edge to them. Once the song gets going, you get lost in the cadence of Doomy and alluring charms. While similar in sound to SWALLOW THE SUN, SHADECROWN have really developed this album on their own terms. Hokka’s vocals are intense and hateful, but the guitars and piano temper this with moments of pure beauty. The Doom elements are rich and ardent but the emotional peaks leave you breathless at times. Very well done, especially considering this is only the band’s second album. These guys have created their own way in the Melodic Doom/Death genre and will only get better with age.

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


4 Star Rating

1. Not Until the End
2. Lifelong Dying
3. Rain’s Edge
4. The Ghost I Mourn
5. Incomplete
6. Hate Reflected
7. Divided
8. Races
Jari Hokka – Vocals
Joonas Vesamäki – Guitar
Tomi Tikka – Guitar
Saku Tammelin – Keyboards
Janne Salmelin – Bass & Clean vocals
Kalle Varonen – Drums
Record Label: Inverse Records


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