|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Finland|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 41:47|
If I were to compile a list of the better Christian metal bands to come out of Northern Europe in recent years I would rank Divinefire, Harmony, Majestic Vanguard, Random Eyes, 7 Days and Wingdom among the regions finest. One exciting new group that deserves equal consideration, however, is Finland’s Essence Of Sorrow. Initially starting out as a side project of guitarist Jani Stefanovic (Divinefire, Miseration) but later turning into a full piece band, Essence Of Sorrow plays a combination of melodic metal and power metal with occasional progressive touches on its 2007 full length Rivel Records debut Reflections Of The Obscure. What makes the album such a noteworthy effort are its catchy hooks, reflected in the solid melody structures the likes of “Hollow”, “The Mirror” and “Trail Of Tears” are built upon. The faster and more aggressive sounds of “Essence Of Sorrow” and “Supreme Oppression”, on the other hand, also delivery an abundance of hooks while the progressive influenced “Mind Control” and “Ashes” hold up every bit as well.
Lead vocal duties are shared by two equally able vocalist in Christian Palin (Random Eyes) and Mats Levin (Yngwie Malmsteem, Therion, At Vance). Christian contributes an even and smooth sounding vocal delivery to “Face Of Death”, “Hollow” and “Mirror” while Mats bestows a gritty but clean style to the albums five remaining vocal compositions. (The ninth track to ROTO is an instrumental entitled “Come Serenity”.) Jani Stefanovic effectively fills in on lead guitar – check out his flashy work on “Ashes” and “Mirror” – and combines with Timo Kuusjarvi (Random Eyes) to handle the albums rhythm guitar duties. Patrik Gardberg (Ammotrack) and Plec (Unmoored) make guest appearances on lead guitar, the two bringing out the best in “Essence Of Sorrow” and “Supreme Oppression” with their technical wizardry. Mikko Harkin provides for just the right amount of atmospheric touch on keyboards, while drummer Rolf Pilve (Dreamtale) rounds out the rhythm section with bassist Andreas Olsson (Narnia, Divinefire).
Production values reflect a professional feel in allowing for a crisp rhythm guitar sound to be combined with a profusion of forceful drums and accentuating keyboards.
“Face Of Death” slowly fades in before taking off at a rollicking, upbeat tempo. Tapering off upon reaching its first verse, the song moves forward in near laid back fashion only to regain its momentum for a punchy chorus in which a distinguished setting is put in place. An all around solid and effective album opener.
“Mind Control” crashes in to a blend of choppy rhythm guitar and orchestral keyboards. An eerie backdrop is established as the rhythm guitar drops from the mix at the start of the songs first verse, an abundance of initiative taking over as the rhythm guitar returns and leads the way to an energized chorus delivered with just the right amount of symphonic touch.
Introduced to several seconds of narration carried over mechanical keyboards, “Essence Of Sorrow” kicks in fast and heavy to a hard hitting riff. The song proceeds to aggressively charge ahead, building and gaining force until breaking out with a profusion of vigor for a chorus with a hook of the refuse to go away variety. An instrumental section shored up by a blend of technical lead guitar work and pulsating drums carries “Essence Of Sorrow” over its final two minutes.
The snarling rhythm guitar initiating “Hollow” is interwoven with a touch of sweeping keyboards as it evens out for its first verse. Moving forward with a deluge of atmospheric impetus, the intensity level slowly escalates as the song urges its way to a chorus delivered in catchy and up-tempo fashion. Christian really shines here with his high end vocal delivery.
“Supreme Oppression” immediately jumps out of the gate to a raucous guitar riff, slowing at the start of its first verse only to kick into high gear upon obtaining a rapidly moving chorus guaranteed to pull you in with its infectious ardor. The tight sounding guitar harmony opening an extensive instrumental section gives way to a stretch of fierily played lead guitar work.
An edge laden rhythm guitar drives “Ashes” forward from the start, the intensity level gradually escalating as the song storms its way to a catchy chorus sustained by a cascading wave of pounding drums. A minute long instrumental section is sustained by some of the albums most animated work on lead guitar. All in all, this one reflects just the right amount of progressive influenced appeal.
“Mirror” begins to offbeat sound effects prior to abruptly taking off in a quickly moving manner. After the rhythm guitar recedes into the background upon obtaining the songs first verse, it fades in and out of the mix before holding sway over an emotionally charged chorus with an abundant hook of a near commercial capacity. More passionate lead guitar work helps “Mirror” rank with the albums better compositions.
“Trail Of Tear” gets underway with an excess of determined impetus only to decelerate as a near gothic environment is upheld for its dark and ethereal first verse. Suddenly picking up in pace, a forceful rhythm guitar takes a hold of the mix and powers the song to a flowing chorus conveyed in profound but melancholic fashion. This one is quite catchy and will have you singing along in no time.
Reflections Of The Obscure closes with the aptly titled instrumental “Come Serenity”. The albums shortest track at 3:39, “Come Serenity” is a more ambient piece carried its distance by an amalgamation of piano, keyboards and rhythm guitar while occasionally highlighted by some bluesy guitar leads.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Face Of Death” (4:27), “Mind Control” (3:55), “Essence Of Sorrow” (5:45), “Hollow” (4:22), “Supreme Oppression” (4:14), “Ashes” (4:22), “Mirror” (6:01), “Trail Of Tears” (5:01), “Come Serenity” (3:39)
Christian Palin – Lead Vocals
Jani Stefanovic – Guitars
Timo Kuusjarvi – Guitars
Mikko Harkin – Keyboards
Rolf Pilve – Drums
Mats Levin – Lead Vocals
Patrik Gardberg - Guitars
Plec – Guitars
Andreas Olsson – Bass