|Review: Morifade - Imaginarium|
Label: Hammerheart Records
Year released: 2001
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: August 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Rated 4/5 (80%) (18 Votes)
Sweden's Morifade are one of those bands that I will voraciously lap anything they put their name to with an unconditional love that I reserve only for acts of musical genius that have touched my heart in some way or another. Fortunately, they have never turned out an album has been fallacious to their cause, and as such have eschewed joining the ranks of fellow sell-outs that have avariciously sold their souls like some satanic offering to universal acceptance, through wide-eyed naivety and lust for commercial gain. One of the underground's most unsung heroes, Morifade struck gold with their sophomore full-length Imaginarium, and it frankly puts most of what followed in its footsteps to recumbent shame.
With that highly polished and almost neo-classical sound that is so indicative to Swedish Power Metal, Imaginarium took the pomp and majesty of the band's label debut Possession of Power and gave it a dark twist of the knife, drawing lyrical inspirations from underlying social and political concerns, ditching the imposing fantasy imagery that was all the rage way back when. Musically, the band really stepped up the mark, with every track showcasing the immense talent of six extremely proficient musicians, who manage to create atmospheric light and shade by keeping things tight and intricate throughout, never missing an opportunity to expand upon an idea or image with startling musical clarity. Like its predecessor, Imaginarium smacks the listener between the eyes with its first half, but unlike Possession it also keeps the pace up during the second. In fact, there is never a dull moment, with every track sounding unique and individual.
There is, of course, the ever-present Helloween influence pervading over the album, with plenty of twin guitar attacks, symphonic synth swirls, rattling double kicks, and huge, uplifting choruses that are so damn catchy you'll have to bang your head against a wall to forget them. There is a lot of Iron Maiden in the duel-leads – the lead riff to "Dark Images" is so damned "Hallowed By Thy Name" that I'm surprised the band never faced a lawsuit – and in the arrangements there is similarities to early Nocturnal Rites, where nothing is particularly surprising, but some odd structural choices are made, keeping the listener on its toes, and all the better for it. Imaginarium is chock full of highlights, and to name a few the harmonized intro to magnificent opener – and the band's finest hour – "Lost Within A Shade" is pure genius on a disc, while the following "Escape" and the beautiful "Rising Higher" both shine with a emboldened greatness that tracks like "In Martyria" and "The Secrecy" also possess.
A blast of Power Metal perfection through a cannon of lightened darkness, Imaginarium is a masterpiece of melodic majesty that no fan of true metal should be without. Absolutely superb.
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