Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Souldrainer - Heaven's Gate (2011)

Souldrainer [Website | Facebook | MySpace]
Heaven's Gate

Souldrainer - Heavens Gate
Sweden's Souldrainer, spawned in 1999 by guitarist/vocalist Marcus Edvardsson, is a melodeath outfit with a bit of a remarkable sound. Inspired by extraterrestrial contact and the music of Hypocrisy and Samael, Souldrainer's sophomore full length Heaven's Gate escapes what has become a rather stale melodic death metal subgenre by incorporating strong, industrio-Gothic synth elements. The requisite throat-shredding vocals are buoyed by a heightened sense of atmosphere and melody, making Heaven's Gate a rather catchy and accessible listen.

Really the only thing pedestrian about this album is Edvardsson's vocals. His scratchy style is common to the style though he's occasionally backed by some clean choruses, such as on the album's standout title track. The remainder of Souldrainer's sound bucks the melodeath trends and instead embraces touches of Gothic and industrial metal, specifically majestic keyboard tones, synthesized strings, and robust melodic riffs. Also responsible for crafting said riffs, Edvardsson eschews flash for substance by routinely delivering basic but engaging riff patterns. Oftentimes, as on album opener "The Quest", Edvardsson's multi-tracked performance results in chugging core riffs sharing time with quality melodic leads.

Credit for the keyboard contributions, so integral to Souldrainer's sound, is unfortunately not given. The mysterious musician's impact is nevertheless quite potent, lending a sometimes otherworldly quality to Heaven's Gate that probably couldn't be so effectively achieved any other way. The string flourishes on "Low" and "The God Delusion" make those tracks noteworthy, while the grandiose keys give "The Legacy", "Remember Me", and "Goodbye Farewell" decidedly Gothic overtones. The lyrics to several tracks on the album delve into subjects of an interstellar nature and result in yet another opportunity for the keys to contribute appropriate atmospheric qualities. "Gate Guard" is perhaps the most spacey, while the impact of the title track is enhanced through the use of strong synth and creepy Marshall Applewhite sound bites.

Heaven's Gate is a melodeath album for those who are not fans of the style. Souldrainer reaches beyond the typical, formulaic sound that has retarded the subgenre and delivers an album that isn't quite revolutionary, but is certainly fresh and engaging.

Track Listing
1The Quest4:29
2Fed By Fire2:50
4Alien Terror3:34
5Hung On The Wall3:42
6The God Delusion4:00
7Gate Guard3:11
8The Legacy5:48
9Remember Me4:54
10Dying For Your Sick Belief2:19
11Goodbye Farewell3:33
12Heaven's Gate7:37
Total Runtime49:52

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