When you start getting into all the niche metal genres that have sprung up since thrash, it can get really hard to tell what is “good” or even “classic” for that given genre, simply because us music fans who are not obsessed with particular sub-genres of metal don’t have enough context. Case in point: I have heard some melodic death metal, but I don’t know how much off the top of my head. My guess would be somewhere between 7 and 10 albums, but it could be even less. And, of course, at least some of these bands weren’t pure melodic death metal bands, but were either pioneers of the genre (so closer to traditional death metal or even thrash) or were more diverse. I just haven’t listened to enough pure melodic death metal to know good (or original) melodic death metal when I hear it. (I mean “good” as in better than average.)
This record is a straight-up melodic death metal album, with not a lot of variation. (Some reviewers claim it is closer to thrash metal but I’m not sure which thrash metal they’re listening to…) I am generally opposed to metal records with little variation, unless they really hit me.
Well, this record really hits me. To the best of my knowledge, the things you want in a melodic death metal record are all here: fast pummeling riffs and drumming, time changes, melodic guitar solos, clear production and (of course) screaming. I read somewhere that they sound too much like At the Gates, but I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever heard an At the Gates record. (And, if I have, it’s been a long time.) So I can’t speak to that.
I can speak to the fact that, as far as one-note metal records go, I quite like this. It’s still clearly death metal with enough melody to be a little bit more accessible than the more extreme stuff but not so much melody that it gets cheesy or ceases to be death metal.