Liam Posselwhite – Lead Vocals, Daniel Russell – Guitar, Stephen Traut – Guitars
John Dalziel – Keyboards/Synths, James Carter – Bass, Patrick Deans – Drums
Drums on ‘Polarissima’ performed by Alex Rudinger
Produced & mixed by Matt Crawford @ Numbskull Audio
Melodic Death Metal will always hold a place in my heart. The big three of At The Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity were some of the very first metal bands I ever got into, and opened my eyes to a whole range of melodic, heavy music. Sadly, the genre’s brief period in the spotlight has passed, and since with the original innovators either disbanding or releasing increasingly disappointing albums, there’s not really anywhere for me to get my fix. So it’s always nice when a new band comes along and embraces the sound, without a care for what’s currently in fashion (and that’s what we’re all about here, isn’t it?).
On the surface, Midnight Realm tick all the melodeath boxes – vaguely gothic imagery in their name, orchestral opening track (that’s actually just keyboards), and the old trick of alternating between clean and harsh vocals. It’s the riffs, however, that make or break the album, and in this aspect there is some success. The Megaman-esque lead that opens ‘Abstract Connections’ and the tapping madness during the chorus of Solaris are particular highlights, but apart from this there isn’t going to be much that you’ve never heard before. There’s a bit of an over reliance on bland chugging rhythms, and I feel that some more melodic guitar lines wouldn’t go amiss. The keyboards do a lot to make up for the lack of dynamic guitar riffs, and there are a couple of pretty catchy synth sections throughout the album (I like the wandering melody that appears in ‘Requiem’). The keyboards are generally quite tastefully deployed – there’s not too much or too little going on. My only complaint would be with some of the rather cheap synth sounds on offer – the keyboardist might want to look to bands like Textures or Dark Tranquility in a bid to find a more nuanced sound.
The vocals are confidently executed, if not particularly mind-blowing. The choruses are catchy, particularly those in Solaris and Mystic Revelations, but I feel the singer needs time to refine his clean vocals and develop a little more presence. One strong point here is the lyrics, which are based around environmentalist themes – an unusual approach in the genre (Gojira notwithstanding). As the EP progresses the tone develops from misanthropy through to defiance and finally hope for the human race to get out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Since I’m doings the rounds of the instrumental performances here I might as well mention the bass – I’ll be honest, it’s there, it does what it needs to, and there isn’t much more to say about it really. The drumming on the other hand is pretty impressive, with a few nice fills here and there to keep each song interesting.
If I don’t sound like my usual effusive self, well, to be honest I wasn’t all that excited by this EP. The guys are all proficient enough, and they’ve written a damn catchy tune in ‘Solaris’, but there’s nothing that grabs me as really original. Perhaps with a bit more experience they’ll be able to forge a unique identity. Here’s hoping they do; I’d like to be excited about melodeath again.
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