Abyss Masterpiece

Written by: PP on 17/03/2011 04:49:05

Here's a release that has been stuck on my review queue for quite some time: the fourth album "Abyss Masterpiece" by Portugal's Heavenwood. I've been at odds with myself on whether I hate it or like it a lot, because the album varies between generic gothic metal with symphonic backing and overblown symphonic metal. The former usually results in generic albums that sound precisely like every other band in the genre, whilst the latter very often offers a more fruitful and interesting take.

The album kicks off with a orchestraic composition of the kind you'd expect to hear on a Nightwish album, full of dramatic, even theatric composition, where the idea has been to make the sound as colossal and overwhelming as possible. It's pompous, sure, but it's also a very good song with some tasty symphonies, which fortunately take more of a backing role behind the band's crunchy metal riffs soon after. They return during the chorus and elsewhere, but it's good to hear a band with some confidence in their non-synth instrumental ability to once.

Though the sound is kept very clearly in the gothic territory (of the symphonic kind), it's always more interesting than your standard band in the genre because the vocals are growled. The high pitch classically trained slash silky and delicate ones from female pipes seldom manage to impress me, so it's good that Heavenwood only use these during some backing choirs, resulting in a much more metal sound, such as on "Morning Glory Clouds". This is a track that plays heavily on a church style choir interlude which leads into high-flying violins and a saddened soundscape. It is immediately contrasted by the deep growls of vocalist Ernesto Guerra, and some melodic yells during the chorus. These make the song catchy, and arguably the best on the record.

While there are others like it, the album does have its fair share of boring filler songs that fall too far into gothic, or are just average for other reasons. In other words, the album is very inconsistent. You have some amazingly good compositions sandwiched in between generic symphonic metal tracks that you'll have heard a thousand times last year alone. As such, it makes it difficult to recommend buying the album, rather than just the few individually good songs from it.

Download: Morning Glory Clouds, September Blood, Once A Burden
For the fans of: Darkseed, Moonspell, Voices Of Destiny
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.03.2011
Listenable Records

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