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Review: Nightshade - Wielding The Scythe
Wielding The Scythe

Label: Scarlet Records
Year released: 2001
Duration: 38:45
Tracks: 8
Genre: Death/Black


Review online: March 25, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
How do you rate this release?

Rated 3.44/5 (68.89%) (18 Votes)

I have seen several lackluster reviews of this album, mostly pegging it as an In Flames clone, which it is. But I think this album is a good deal better than it has generally been adjudged. This is the debut from Nightshade, yet another Swedish melodic death metal band, but the quality on display here is quite a cut above the usual.

The way people go on about In Flames, you’d think they were still releasing great albums, but in fact they released one good album: "The Jester Race", that’s it. Last time I checked, that album was released years ago, and ever since In Flames have been foisting crap like "Clayman" off on us, so enough already. Nightshade do sound a lot like In Flames, but like they used to sound, back when they were good.

Nightshade put a lot of work into their compositions, and it shows. The songs on "Wielding the Scythe" are very textured, with a lot going on at once. There are the obvious twin-guitar harmonies, but there is also a lot of nice keyboard work here to add melody and depth, as well as some unexpected female vocals on "Sanctum" that surprise but fit in very well and really add something to the song. I wish they had used her more, as it’s a nice effect. Rather than simply beating away at that ‘standard’ death metal time signature of rat-tat-tat-tat, Nightshade use punchy rhythms and headbanging tempos to liven up the formula, making the songs very catchy.

The vocals are standard death-metal screams, not very guttural. They are pretty one-dimensional and are the weakest link here. The guitarwork is really cool, and the drums, as I’ve said, are more creative than usual for this kind of band and really help the music a lot. The production doesn’t have enough bottom end for me, but I like a really heavy production on my death metal – the sludgier the better. The production here is very crisp, but I like things a bit grubbier.

The CD is cool-looking, with a wonderfully cheesy cover painting of the reaper decapitating no less than seven people with one sweep of the titular scythe. A bit crude but very well-composed. The graphic design within is nice, but there are no lyrics, which I hate.

Despite what you may have heard, this is a good CD. Better by far than anything In Flames have given us since Jester Race, and this is almost as good as that album. There is a lot to listen to, and several trips through the CD are required to really get all the good stuff going on here. I really hope this is not the last we hear from Nightshade, as this album foretells great things to come from this band.

Standouts: Lacrima Caelestis, Sanctum, Moonlight In Chaos Shone.

More about Nightshade...
Review: Wielding The Scythe (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Interview with Nightshade on April 3, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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