So this is the third album of the holy trinity of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal. It is third because it is the last to be released, a full three months after Slaughter of the Soul and slightly less than that behind The Gallery (which came out a week after the former). I can’t believe I know this stuff now…
Something about Slaughter of the Soul‘s rep put me off a bit and I’ve come down hardest on it, though it was first and I really should have thought about that differently. (I don’t think I realized I was going to be listening to all three in the span of a few months.) The Gallery is considerably more artistically ambitious than either of the other two (from memory) and certainly a lot more over the top. That appealed to me in the moment.
This one is somewhere between the other two in terms of ambition – it doesn’t hit the crazy “heights” of The Gallery but it does feel a little closer to what I think of as “melodic death metal” than Slaughter of the Soul. Once again, this singer, like Dark Tranquillity’s singer, is closer to my idea of what a “death metal” singer should sound like, than the At the Gates guy. (Again, at least at this point in their careers.) And I think that has a lot to do with selling these later two records to me.
But the other thing is that both the latter two records feel more towards the melodic side of the melodic death metal spectrum. I think The Gallery is even further along than this one (again, from memory) and might be a little bit into self-parody territory if it was released in, say, 2000 instead. But this one finds a pretty happy middle ground for me: heavier, and less ridiculous, than The Gallery but more clearly “melodic death metal” than Slaughter of the Soul. But I listened to this one months after the other two so I honestly can’t say how much of this is in my head.
In the span of only a couple of months, I’ve gone from laughing at the idea that there was a holy trinity of the Gothenburg melodic death metal scene to sort of understanding it. I have no idea what that says about me or my life choices. But I guess it does give me a little bit more perspective next time I have to review a niche metal album from the mid to late ’90s, something I’m probably going to be doing a lot over the next few years.