|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: Incrave|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 43:10|
Sweden’s Incrave got its start in 2001 while initially under the moniker Evergrace. The group spent its first several years performing live throughout Sweden until vocalist Johan Falk enrolled in a local music program at ITM. Once Johan’s music training was complete in 2006, Evergrace began work on its debut album, a self-titled release that came out on Ulterium Records later the same year. The first half of 2007 found the band permanently changing its name to Incrave in addition to re-issuing its debut under the new title The Escape (with the bonus track “The Masquerade”). Maintaining the same six piece line up, Incrave later returned to the studio and recorded the follow up effort Dead End, which was released in the winter of 2008 also on Ulterium Records.
Dead End can best be described as a musical continuation of The Escape in that the band maintains a melodic metal heading with the occasional power metal influence. Fans of Tad Morose, Nocturnal Rites, Essence Of Sorrow, Narnia and Mehida will be drawn into this as will those into XT, Leviticus, Teramaze, Laudamus and Stryper. If anything, the album finds Incrave improving upon all areas of its performance. The first is songwriting. While The Escape stood out with its catchy hooks, the band builds upon this with further depth and maturity imbuing its compositions. The likes of “Shattered” (great radio friendly feel to this one), the emotional “Unveil The Truth”, symphonic “Scream In Silence”, semi-ballad “Shades Of Me” and driving metal of “An Empty Soul” and “The Touch Of Death”, for instance, all hold up as a result of their notable melodies. ”. “The Forgotten” and “A Shadow In The Dark” also deliver significant chorus hooks while the albums intricate title track allows the band to showcase its instrumental sound.
Vocals and musicianship also represent areas of improvement. At this point it must be mentioned the abundant vocal harmonies imbuing Dead End, some of the most polished this side of Stryper. As a matter of fact, it sounds as if the guys spent the better part of the past year listening to To Hell With The Devil and In God We Trust non stop. To understand my point just give “Shattered”, “Scream In Silence” and “Dead End” several spins.
Frontman Johan Falk continues to bring his gravelly, mid-octave vocal sensibilities, adding elements of heart and souls to his already melodic vocal flavorings. The guitar team of Jon Balefalk and David Ohlsson might not bring any Malsteem-Impellitteri-Grimmark style shredding but their lead work proves perfectly tailored to the bands sound and skillfully done. Guest appearances on lead guitar, at the same time, are made by Markus Sigfridsson (Harmony, Darkwater & 7 Days) and Daniel Olsson (Tad Morose) on “The Forgotten” and “Unveil The Truth” respectively.
Dead End finds the group bettering the already solid production values characteristic to The Escape: the rhythm guitar has added bit while the drums and keyboards stand out cleaner in the mix.
In my review of The Escape I mentioned that Incrave takes a “Christian members in the band” approach. And the same holds true here in that the group maintains a low profile in exhibiting its Christian morality through a positive lyrical approach.
Album opener “Shattered” stands out with its infectious melody. The song begin quietly only to take off to a vibrant wall of rhythm guitar. Storming ahead at an upbeat tempo, “Shattered” even out as the bands lush vocal harmonies make their presence felt prior to a chorus of a near commercial variety. Beautiful song that deserves to be heard on FM radio.
“The Forgotten” slows the pace down but proves no less notable. The song also starts calmly before an edgy rhythm guitar takes hold of the mix, propelling things at a driving mid-tempo pace until a catchy chorus shored up by a trace of piano is procured. A keyboard solo initiates an instrumental section highlighted by a fervent stretch of lead guitar.
Introduced to a quick drum solo, “A Shadow In The Dark” rollicks forward energetically until it decelerates at the start of its first verse. The song proceeds to trade off between passages driven at the faster tempo and others moving at a more temperate clip, not culminating until achieving a poignantly charged chorus upheld by the heartfelt vocal delivery of Johan Falk.
“The Touch Of Death”, the albums shortest piece at 3:41, is also one of its fastest. The song jump starts to a plethora of lively momentum, pulsating ahead as an aggressive drum sound is joined by a highlighting vestige of keyboards. Tapering off for its verse portions as a piano makes its presence felt, “The Touch Of Death” kicks into high gear for a sweeping chorus standing out as a result of the spirited feel to its delivery.
“Unveil The Truth” brings an exquisite joining of rhythm guitar and piano, the two sustaining its verse portions and the smooth sounding but hook driven chorus that follows. A very well done lead guitar break – backed by a perfectly placed mix of drums – helps this one to rank with the albums better tracks. Nice emotional feel here.
The piano and keyboards commencing “Shades Of Me” soon give way to a forward swell of rhythm guitar. The piano returns as the song achieves its first verse, initiative slowly building until the attainment of an immaculate chorus sustained by an accentuate underpinning of keyboards. The lead work this time around is on the stirring side of things.
The Essence Of Sorrow-like metal of “An Empty Soul” represents one of the more aggressive numbers here, combining an animated atmosphere with a rousing chorus guaranteed to pull you in with its gripping appeal. The bands rich vocal harmonies stand out as well.
“Scream In Silence” starts to a piano based opening prior to abruptly taking off in symphonic fashion. The song tapers off upon reaching its first verse, slowly flowing ahead as impetus gradually builds for an anthem-like chorus intertwined with the bands polished backing vocals. A near perfect melding of guitar and piano holds sway over a lofty instrumental break.
Ominous and portent would be the best way to describe the opening to “Nevermore”. The song, however, suddenly picks up speed and takes off with a plethora of verve, maintaining the driving initiative as the way is paved for a stately chorus driven at a catchy upbeat tempo. Another example of hook based melodic metal at its finest.
The album closes with its hard hitting title track. This one allows the band to stretch in the instrumental department, displaying the strength of its musicianship throughout a tight sounding guitar based opening and instrumental section showcasing a stretch of bristling lead work. Chorus wise, “Dead End” works as well in that vocal harmonies once more are put to effective use in creating an environment that comes across towering in capacity.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Shattered” (4:12), “The Forgotten” (4;47), “A Shadow In The Dark” (4:30), “The Touch Of Death” (3:41), “Unveil The Truth” (4:16), “Shades Of Me” (4:20), “An Empty Soul” (4:00), “Scream In Silence” (4:47), “Nevermore” (4:27), “Dead End” (4:09
Johan Falk – Lead Vocals
Jon Balefalk - Guitars
David Ohlsson – Guitars
Jonathan Stenberg – Keyboards
Martin Davidsson – Bass
Markus Sigfridsson & Daniel Olsson – Lead Guitar
Also Reviewed: Incrave – The Escape