|The Bereaved - Darkened Silhouette
30 November 2004
01. Soaked Mud Remain
03. The Bereaved
04. Vital Organ Theft
05. Hollow Child
06. My Dying Pride
08. Devil's Deal
09. Angels Ablaze
10. Fatal Human Rapture
11. Lines In Shape
12. The Abyss
Are you a big fan of Swedish melodic death, and other Scandinavian extreme metal? Do you like At The Gates, The Haunted, old In Flames and Dark Tranquillity? If you answered yes, then you can read further. If the only idea of something melodic associated to death metal makes your whole body itch, stop here and go have a cup of coffee. The Bereaved is in no way different from all the bands quoted above. For its first album, this Swedish band founded in 1998 gathered in only one piece all that has made the success of the Gothenburg scene.
Darkened Silhouette starts out with the In Flames rip-off 'Soaked Mud Remain'. This song is catchy, with great guitar riffs, even if it is (too much) blatantly inspired from Subterranean or The Jester Race. Just like 'Silverspoon' or 'Hollow Child', which are good songs, written to stick in your mind, but obviously lack in personality. In other words, it's the kind of songs that dozens of bands have already done. While I'm at it, let's keep on with the bad points: the vocals are quite original for a death metal band, as Johnny Westerback often sounds like Shagrath for example (that means it's more or less black metal vocals), but they are not powerful enough. The overall production is quite problematic anyway. Ok the sound is clean, perfect, professional and all, but maybe too much. Darkened Silhouette sounds sanitized, without anything distinctive. Since I belong to the people who believe that death metal needs a more or less raw and live sound, I always find that kind of production quite unsuitable.
Enough with the mean comments. If I may dare to give a piece of advice to The Bereaved, I urge them to dig a more thrashy way. The best tracks on this album are those that tend towards pure Swedish thrash a la The Haunted, or those that integrate clean vocals. The most commercial songs are very catchy, with melodic choruses that can remind of Soilwork for example ('The Bereaved'). On the other hand, the thrash/death songs are technical as hell and show an interesting sense of riffing and a stunning quality to play the melodies that hit the jackpot. 'Pathetic', 'Devil's Deal' or 'Angels Ablaze' would make a lot of bands green with envy. If The Bereaved could pursue on this way, I am sure they would make their music more interesting than it is already, and that they would justify their title of 'new Swedish death metal hope'. Another strong point that needs to be noted is the good use of keyboards. They are not overly present but add a nice touch of melody here and there.
All in all, those who don't like that kind of metal won't change their mind with The Bereaved. The problem with this band is that they don't bring anything new, and that they are not able yet to get rid of their most blatant influences. BUT, there is obviously talent and great musicianship, so hopefully they'll use it to give the best of them. They are a potentially excellent band. Meanwhile, all of you should give it a try. If you like pure Swedish metal, if you are a nostalgic of the old In Flames or Dark Tranquillity, that's a good treat.
Highlights: The Bereaved, Pathetic, Devil's Deal, Angels Ablaze
P.S.: Note the pun in track 6...