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In the Shadow of Death - A Scandinavian Extreme Music Compilation

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 Compilations can be really bad sometimes. However, every once in a while you come across a really good one. Well, "In the Shadow of Death" is a really good one. Seventy-five minutes of extreme music from Scandinavia make for one very happy reviewer. Nine of the 15 songs on here are previously unreleased songs, so you're not just getting a bunch of re-hashed tunes. Group #1 is Parca Pace with "Chrysalis". Parca Pace (if I remember correctly) is a project by Jan of Sanctum. This is just a short 90 second industrial intro. Vaakevandring is next with "Fall of Man". This is a totally awesome black metal song! It is very fast and chaotic. The black vocals are very well done with female "opera" style vocals thrown in for good measure. They also use keyboards very effectively. Definitely, one of the best unreleased songs on this CD. Lengsel is next with "Revival" from their "Solace" release. All of you who didn't buy "Solace" are given a chance here to listen, repent, and then go buy that masterpiece. "Revival" is one of the best tracks off their album. Very fast black metal with some haunting clean vocals at the end that sound really cool. Schaliach makes their return here with "Purple Filter". Schaliach could basically be called Extol's half-brother. Ole Borud, who previously played in Extol, does all the instruments here. There are many Extol influences in both the music and even the vocals. Schaliach is proof that music can be extremely brutal yet beautiful at the same time. Very melodic death metal at its finest. Here's hoping for a full-length release soon. Sanctum is next with "Stone". This is a great industrial song from Mental Destruction's label mates. The song is not heavy at all, but does showcase Jan's vocals in a great way. Sometimes they are soft spoken vocals and at other times she belts it with her beautiful voice. Very haunting and ominous. Long song, but if you like industrial, you'll like it. Crimson Moonlight is next with "Blood Covered My Needs". This is yet another amazing black metal band. Very fast and chaotic. They do a cool stop in the middle where Pilgrim says something in Swedish, then they rip right back into the song. They use keyboards very effectively and also incorporate a cool acoustic outro. Antestor is next with "Spiritual Disease" from their "Martyrium" release. Kinda some doomy death metal with some black influences. Nicely used keyboards as well. I prefer the material from their "The Return of the Black Death" release better, but this is still a great song. The mighty Extol is next with the European version of "Inferno". The only difference from this and the American version is a industrial outro by Sanctum. I'm not sure which ending I like better. Regardless, this is an amazing song. Very technical, very heavy, breath-taking vocals and music. What can I say...it's Extol. Mental Destruction is next with "Your Dying Soul". I love this band's music, that they title "Orthodox Industrial". Basically, all it is is lots of odd noises, crashes, screeches and some extremely harsh vocals, but I love it. This is my favorite industrial band by far and this is a great song off their "Straw" album. Anaemia comes next with "The Second Incarnation". Great heavy metal song with thrashy/death vocals that are very discernable. They also have a killer guitar solo in this song that I love. Sanctifica is next with "Riket (The Empire)", the lead-off track on their "Spirit of Purity" album. This is top-notch black metal. It starts off very fast with a long growl/screech, but settles down into more of a mid-paced tempo. These guys are great musicians. The lyrics are sung in Swedish. Vardoger is next with "Footprints of Thunder". This is a new band to me. I really like them a lot though. It's some great black metal. The vocals are done by Peter of Schaliach. Has some haunting clean vocals and creepy keyboards that spice up the song. Only complaint is that the song ends way to early. I want to hear more! Absurd is next with "Wisdom". I don't really know what to think of this song. It doesn't really fit with the rest of the CD. Sometimes they get heavy with some black-like vocals and sometimes they get quirky & fast-paced with some annoying vocals. I think they should stick to the heavy side. I've heard comparisons to Believer. I can see where Believer influences come in, but this band is definitely not in the same class as Believer. They got talent, I'm just not too thrilled with how they use it. And golly, the ending is CHEESY! Hit the skip button. Drottnar saves the day after a little bit of a let-down. "Trellebaand Maa Briste" is a kick-butt black metal tune. Very fast, very chaotic. The sound is a little on the high end though. A very dark sounding song that lasts over 6 minutes. I love great songs that last a long time. Nebulon ends out the CD with "Enough". This is some more great industrial. Kind've a cross between Circle of Dust and Mental Destruction. I hear more Mental Destruction influence than anything else. In the vocals and music. I would not be suprised at all if Samuel Durling is behind this mysterious band. At the very least, I'd say he produced the song. In closing, I say that if you like extreme music in the slightest bit than you must get this CD. Even if you already have all the previously released songs. The unreleased songs are good enough to warrant spending your hard-earned cash. The only down points? No lyrics. Some bands have pictures...but some don't. And the Absurd song. Despite these minor mistakes, the positives are so good that I'm giving this release a rating of 10 anyway. Go get it! (Review by Matt)

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"In The Shadow of Death" is a Scandinavian metal compilation comprised of a few different genres and it is quite unique.  The 1st track on here is some industrial type intro.  Let's just say it's horrible!  Track 2 is the Norwegian band Vaakevandring with the song "Fall of Man".  This is a great tune that is full of fast drums and grim guitars. There is a female vocalist doing some ooo'ing, but at least she doesn't take up a lot of space in this and ruin it!  This song has keyboards which are low in the mix to at least let the black styled aspect of this do the talking.  This vocalist is great!  Reminds me of Dark Funeral in the vocals!  This is probably my favorite track on the album.  Track 3 is Norway's black metal, Lengsel, with "Revival".  Very melodic and talented, yet harsh and grim-like black metal.  Very good band!  The guitars show some really interesting parts because this is one talented dude!  The guitars have that droning feel but are more scratchy.  Still like it!  The vocals are very harsh agonizing yells that show that this is a very angry singer and adds to the intensity of the music.  The drums are just in the back pretty much blazing away with double bass and blast beats.  He's very solid and he keeps it going!  The bass playing puts some low end to this and really helps the structure maintain its evolution.  Track 4 is Schaliach.  Another band also from Norway.  This is slower melodic death metal and is probably the most talented band on the compilation.  The song here is "Purple Filter".  The guitars are heavy and crunchy. Reminds me of Edge of Sanity as a sound in the guitars.  Also a fair use of acoustic guitars are used, but they add a great emotional feel of sorrow to the song.  I can't tell if there is a bass guitar used in this because it's fairly heavy as it is.  So if there is a bass, it blends in very well with the guitars!  The drums do their thing and go through some real interesting beats.  Double bass in parts, but pretty much keeping a solid beat!  The vocals remind me of Amorphis although not quite as deep.  But they do have that feel in the growls.  Excellent tune here!  Track 5 is Sanctum.  Crap garbage noise that ruins this cd.  Skip...Next track!!!!!!!!  Track 6 is Crimson Moonlight from Sweden with the song "Blood Covered My Needs".  I hate this song.  This is definitely circus music. There are so much keyboards here that it ruins the music.  The keyboards are too happy and it totally ruins this!  You can't really even hear the drums because of these keyboards.  Even the vocals are sort in the background.  This sucks!  Next!!!!  Track 7 is Antestor from Norway.  The song they feature here is "Spiritual Disease".  These guys are great!  Some parts are doom, some parts are death, and some parts have a black metal feel.  The vocals are either low death growls or intense agonizing screams. This song just goes through so many eerie and sorrowful emotions, but are extremely interesting!  Another favorite of mine is this song out of this compilation.  Track 8 is Extol "Inferno".  Norwegian death metal in an extremely melodic way.  This is also the 1st track on "Undeceived" and there is no doubt you have heard this.  But if you haven't...its melodic with a good use of a violin, but not overused.  The guitars are super crunchy, but drony in a black metal styled way.  The drums are pounding out some pretty fast beats with lots of use in the double bass department.  The bass is giving the music the low end needed backing the drums and helping the music flow!  The vocals are somewhat strained, but still are ok I guess.  I am just kind of sick of them after the first few lines because they are just screams that drop in pitch at the end of each line.  But these guys are definitely talented and one can see why they are a favorite among many.  Track 9 is Mental Destruction.  More noise type industrial music.  I hate this garbage.  No need for it on a metal comp and it's just irritating.  Next track...  Track 10 is Anaemia with the song "Second Incarnation".   This is definitely boring.  I don't think these guys are really sure what they are doing.  It starts off mellow as a doom band would, then kicks into slower type metal with harsh vocals.  But it doesn't do anything and I guess to me it is more of a filler.  Track 11 is Sweden's Sanctifica with the song "Ricket".  The song title is dumb, but the song is definitely good.  I'm just sick of these black metal bands using keyboards because it doesn't add anything.  It just takes away from the grimness that makes black metal what it is.  This guy's vocals are pretty intense though.  I think he's heard Gorgoroth and that's where he gets it. The drums (when you can hear them) are back laying down some killer beats.  The beats match the drums, but I think his bass drums are pretty solid.  I'd go as far as saying this guy is great on the kit!  The guitars are laying down some pretty good riffs that remind me of Emperor.  Thought out and played well!  Definitely a good song overall!  Track 12 is Vardoger with the song "Footprints of Thunder".  I must first state that these guys' vocals are among the best black metal vocals I have heard in a long time!  This is mid paced black styled dark metal with a fair use of keyboards and some clean vocals.  Very talented band and this song really makes you want to hear more of them!  Track 13 is Absurd.  I don't think these guys are aware of the 3 other bands named Absurd before them, but oh well.  These guys musically are fairly decent. Thrashy type stuff, but it doesn't do anything for me.  These vocals are lame retarded!!!!!!!  This dude must have decided to follow Steve Rowe.  These have to be the worst vocals I have ever heard in my entire life!!!  I hope these guys broke up or at least got a new singer!  Track 14 is Norway's Drottnar.  These guys also fell away from what they started as with Dark Throne-ish type black metal to the ever so populated "atmospheric" style of black metal ala Dimmu Borgir.  The vocals are cool and the music is fast, but these keyboards just ruin it.  See Dimmu Borgir for reference.  I'll pass on this because I definitely hate this style!  Track 15 is Nebulon and again is one of those garbage noise industrialized bands that make this comp stupid.  Overall though I would say the compilation as a whole is fairly decent.  Maybe the label will learn a lesson from this though!  (Review by Biff Bartholemew)

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