Release date: Sep 3rd. 2013
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Country: United States
As much as I love my melodic death metal, I tend to find that the genre doesn’t always showcase originality and can be very formulaic in its presentation. On that note, Fade To Oblivion don’t seem to suffer from this with their debut LP Of Death And Vengeance. The Columbus, Ohio-based trio has no issue jumping from grinding death metal to galloping Iron Maiden-esque power, yet they manage to balance the overall sound so that continuity is maintained from track to track.
It becomes clear from the very start of the album with ‘Impending Doom’ that the band can keep up the pace, with duel-guitar tremolos shaping much of the album’s harmonic flavour. Crisp, warm guitar tones allow for constant clarity with the bass and drums providing a rock-solid groundwork for the fluid melodic shape of each track. As mentioned before, variety abounds throughout the record, whether it be the mellow and delicate ‘Requiem,’ the horror-film-like ‘Slaughter,’ the Lamb Of God-esque ‘Traitor’ or the gloriously galloping power-metal feast that is ‘Ascent’ – boredom between tracks will be hard to come by for the new listener. What struck me most, however, was the approach to guitar solos; as I am a guitarist myself, this area is usually subject to my harshest scrutiny. I am impressed that Fade To Oblivion have decided against the usual ‘1000-notes-a-minute’ approach to melo-death solos (though I still love you, Arch Enemy) and have instead blended speed with quirky phrasing to allow a defined character for their lead guitar passages, almost like a second voice. The same can be said of the drum-writing, particularly when moving between tracks like ‘Visions in the Cold’ and ‘Descension,’ and it is worth noting that the drums were actually recorded by the remaining three members after their drummer left the group. The instrumentalists obviously have a wide range of influences and aren’t afraid to show them, an attitude I applaud as opposed to genre-based tunnel-vision.
Lyrics and singing:
Whilst I could attempt to paint my own portrait of the album’s lyrics, the band itself does far more justice with the description on their website:
“…a concept album straight out of a High Fantasy novel from your favorite author. Central to the story is a more or less average Joe who finds himself conscripted to fight a war not of his choosing. Upon returning home from his first battle, he finds that the war, and something far worse, has visited death and destruction to his home town. The remainder of the album details his quest to avenge his family’s death, and the very personal effects of embarking on such a journey. “
Any fan of lyrics by groups such as Iron Maiden, Amon Amarth and Dragonforce will gobble up lines like “After countless slain now they still come/with one false move you’re lying in your blood/they conquer us with authority/from an ancient land, lain far across the sea” and “The blood coagulates, wet but gelling still/the pane, it’s broken, resonates my soul/as blood thickens, cold” and the delivery varies from growls and screams to cleans and spoken word.
In fact, the vocal style of the record is as diverse as any other instrument, particularly for those listeners with a keen ear for growled/screamed singing. At many moments I am reminded of Angela Gossow, then it’ll turn into pitched vocals with an urgent punk edge, then the register will drop and I’ll be reminded of Glen Benton – and so on. Whilst this approach to vocals can alienate some listeners as being ‘inconsistent,’ it seems to suit the flow of the record and serves to enhance rather than stunt its development. Of particular note are the tenor-style vocals in ‘Requiem’ and the second half of the title track; it is at these moments that any doubt over the singer’s vocal talents are removed, regardless of whether or not the listener is a heavy metal fan.
Though I would not term the record ‘genre-shattering,’ it is what it is – a breath of fresh air in a style whose etiquette can become its own worst enemy. Fade To Oblivion have managed to create a record where every moment has its place, and each track is a but a well-balanced piece of the larger puzzle. Mainly due to its epic ending, I have to single out the title track as my favourite – I’m a sucker for well-placed synths and choral vocals, and it (to me) is the most tastefully diverse track on the record. For first time listeners, I strongly recommend listening from beginning to end to truly appreciate everything that Of Death And Vengeance has to offer.
–Matt, 8th Sep. 2013
The album can be bought and downloaded from the following link: http://fadetooblivion.bandcamp.com/album/of-death-and-vengeance