Art of sadness as a route to bliss for Swedish quartet who crystallize their glacial vision in the fields of glory.
Progress doesn’t mean hurry, and this band took their time to deliver on the promise of 2009’s “Heroes Of The Unfinished Symphony” without straying into power metal. Erstwhile heaviness intact, the group’s gloom is glossy now, the album ending with “Escape Into Darkness” to provide explanation as to where they’re heading yet, although Valhalla seems to be out of reach here, there’s an alternative to it.
The paradise-splitting riffs of “Shangri-La” come interspersed with pregnant strum, and such expectancy, despite a dose of desperation, may be the record’s defining characteristic, but the many layers of Daniel Castman’s guitar give the songs a sensual air. It complements the transparency in “Cold Eyes” where Cliff Ljung’s vocals soar to the clouds, and takes “The Depths Of Vanadis” even higher, the instrumental’s title notwithstanding, although “Sacrifice” has a generic whiff about it. Still, whereas the murk of “In The End” is hidden behind a swirl of deceptively merry rocking and infectious, arena-sized choruses, “In Life And Death” is revealing a taut AOR veneer for Richard Sundström’s bass to bounce off recklessly.
More so, the streamlined “Distant Traveler” can easily be transplanted onto a dance groove, showing here’s a lot of possibilities for the ensemble’s next symphony. No reason to mourn, then, when a road lies ahead.