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Review: Shadowsphere - Darklands

Label: Floyd Music
Year released: 2004
Duration: 65:57
Tracks: 13
Genre: Death/Thrash

Rating: 4/5

Review online: January 27, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 3/5 (60%) (3 Votes)

Mark this one on the calendar – an unsolicited promo that not only isn't horrible, it's actually good. Shadowsphere are a self-proclaimed Death Metal band from Portugal of all places, and I have to say I am highly impressed by "Darklands", their debut CD.

What Shadowsphere have done is combine melodic Death Metal with some Thrash and a very traditional feel to the riffs and solos to produce a pretty kick-ass sound. The songwriting and riffery here is remarkably good – the songs cram in a lot of different licks and time changes, and all of it is pretty tasty. The songs have enough variety to keep from getting boring, and just when you are about to lose interest they switch to another riff and it gets cool again. I do have some issue with the vocals here though. I always think that once a band reaches a certain point of melodic songwriting, the death vox start to not fit the music as well, and Shadowsphere have reached that point. If they were a bit more brutal these vocals would sit better, but as it is I think they would do better with a melodic singer. The vocals alternate between a deep growl and a more screamy Thomas Lindburg kind of voice. I like the deeper growling fine, but the screams are a bit yammery and they detract from the music somewhat. These guys have the tendency to use the same beat for their verses on every song, so a lot of the cuts here sound a bit samey.

The CD art is very good, and all the lyrics are included. I don't mind when bands base songs off books or movies, but when almost every song is based off a movie it seems a little silly. I mean I like "Dracula" as well as the next guy, but 8 songs based on Coppola's movie may be a bit much. The lyrics themselves, line by line, are not bad at all however. And I certainly prefer this to the usual Gothenburger crapola.

This is a good CD, and despite some slight issues I like it very well. The guitarwork is very accomplished and the drumming is pretty good too. For riff-intensive metal with a thrashy feel this is a strong entry from a band with real promise. "Darklands" may not break any new ground, but it is a very enjoyable album that is worth checking out.

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