Cycle Of Zero

Death Metal
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"Some of you accused me I gave great credit to a band that had nothing interesting to show when I made an interview with these Finns. I tell you now I really believed in that debut, "Modus Operandi" and I had great expectations for the second album to confirm my belief. Well...this is a great disappointment! DIVERCIA preferred to mix melodic Metal with a kind of Metal HIM that there is nothing left to pick up! In other words, the new album is even more Heavy and aggressive than the previous both in instruments and vocals! There some parts in which a clear outstanding voice reminds me of that glorious LOST IN TWILIGHT, which pleasantly touched me years ago. It seems that, in hunger of more and more popularity, DIVERCIA has put aside its own identity, its own sound and decided to simply be a clone of bands like: SENTENCED, HIM, TO/DIE/FOR, NIGHTWISH in order to gain fans from both sides: Commercial and underground Melodic Metal. To me...DIVERCIA is now rather too disco for my Underground feeling and too noisy for a commercial audition in HIM or THE 69 EYES type! Not to say that the screamed vocals are by far too embarrassing! Apart from what I said I should add: the atmosphere is pretty specific to those of Finnish Metal Bands. Pleasant and tonic enough. The video included has "the merit" of outlining the superficiality of this new musical concept of the Finns." - Kogaionon

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  • Mayan is the other band of Epica founder Mark Jansen.  As you can expect by now from Jansen, he doesn't do anything on a small scale.  Like Epica, Mayan is an epic sounding band.  The raison d'etre of Mayan is melodic death metal.  The band features Lauren Macri providing soprano vocals, Henning Basse on clean male vocals, and Jansen handles the death growls.  There is actually a pretty good balance between clean/death vocals.  As expected, lots of great guests - Floor Jansen appears on a couple of tracks, and Stream Of Passion's Marcel Bovio sings on three.  Dimitris Katsoulis contributes violin.  Mayan has coalesced into a band, as opposed to the debut which really was more of a project.  Symmetry guitarist Frank Schiphorst provides the shred, and ex-Delain bassist Rob Vander Loo is on board as well.  After Forever's Joost van den Broek co-produced the album and you get that larger than life sound that this music craves.   Oddly enough the album actually starts off with the bonus track...its a good one!  Highly recommended.
  • SpiRitual is the brand-new ethno metal project of Stefan Hertrich, vocalist/songwriter for the long running German gothic metal band Darkseed, and sound track composer for PC games. Supported by international guest musicians, the 29 year old artist hits the road again to explore distant cultures and alternative ways of thinking, as he did in 1999 (Betray My Secrets) and 2004 (Shiva in Exile, awarded with the American Just Plain Folks Music Award in the category "best new age/world album 2004"). Combining distant melancholic aesthetics with hard metal elements, the first release entitled "Pulse" offers 8 epic ethno metal tracks. Brutal metal vocals and mercilessly down-tuned guitars are mixed with warm ethnic instruments and female vocals, creating a dynamic and energetic listening experience.In his role as a writer, Hertrich as usual sees the world critically, but instead of observing the outer grievances under social and political viewpoints, he dips directly into the listener to show him his worst enemy on his way to growth and self-realization: doubts and fears. The lyrics of "Pulse" don´t focus on hopelessness but motivate the listener/reader to recognize and establish positive character attributes slumbering in every human soul: courage, inner strength, sensibility, respect.In cooperation with the German author and scientist D. Ph. Christian Rätsch and the Russian video team Deviant Creations, a multimedia section was created, including a video clip as well as text material of the author and Stefan himself. Being a world-renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist Rätsch spent three years of fieldwork among the Lacandone Indians in Chiapas, Mexico, being the only European fluent in their language. His numerous fieldworks also have included research in Thailand, Bali, the Seychelles, and a long-term study (18 years) on shamanism in Nepal combined with expeditions to Korea and the Peruvian and Columbian Amazon. Atmospheric flutes and percussion insets were arranged by the Columbian Shaman Kajuyali Tsamani.Also appearing: female vocals by Gaby Koss (former Haggard, Germany) and Yana Veva (Theodor Bastard, Russia), drums by Maurizio Guolo (Darkseed, Germany) and guitar solos by the German artists Christian Bystron (Megaherz), René Berthiaume (Equilibrium) and Markus Glanz (Koyaanisqatsy).
  • "WITHERSCAPE is a brainchild of Dan Swanö, who has not only participated with EDGE OF SANITY, NIGHTINGALE and BLOODBATH, but also he’s been busy producing bands like OPETH, KATATONIA, ASPHYX and so on, not happy to settle with this he’s also been involved with side projects (MOONTOWER, ODDYSSEYand PAN.THY.MONIUM). For WITHERSCAPE he’s invited multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Widerberg to collaborate on this eclectic sounding album, it contains elements of Doom and Death Metal but also progressive elements. There’s quite a strange thing about the album, where it concerns Swanö’s clean vocals they’re not really strong or impressive as some of his peers and certainly he seems to be more technically skilled on the guitar, yet this less than great and just about good enough vocal is a perfect fit for the music.They suit it with a rough edge and the Death Metal vocals and passage give the catchiness a great shade of darkness and both live in a nice balance. Also this way it feels genuine and sincere and has a good deal of a rocking out spirit to it, especially when you add the guitar solos, which are not a show off yet obviously relishing the instrument’s gifts. ‘To The Calling Of Blood And Dreams’ is not only epic but showcases the eclectic approach in all its width.  A diverse and truly good album with emotively charged songs that sound classic as well as modern, moreover with a style that’s accessible and unique at the same time." - Reflections Of Darkness
  • "It’s time once again to turn loose the Swanös! Well, the Swanö named Dan anyway. That’s because the mega-man is back with his Witherscape project, and as before he’s brought along his mustachioed compadre, Ragner Widerberg to provide multi-instrumental support. Those who heard the massive debut, The Inheritance know what to expect – rich, melodic, somewhat progressive death metal with a cosmic ass-ton of hooks, mood and memorability. The Northern Sanctuary cleaves close to the style of the debut while expanding the scope and breadth of the band’s vision. Basically it’s like a collaboration between Yes and early Opeth, or if you prefer, Swanö’s Nightingale project mashed up with Edge of Sanity‘s timeless Crimson opus. It’s emotional and melodic as hell but still a death metal album at heart and it’s actually amazing just how musical and beautiful these two can make the material without it feeling too soft or watered down.The goods are dropped at your doorstep immediately with mammoth opener “Wake of Infinity” which serves up the best of Omnium Gatherum, Edge of Sanity and Symphony X all stuffed into one glorious musical empanada of awesomeness. There are wild and inventive riffs, crazy keyboard runs and a tasty mix of death roars and uber-dramatic clean singing from Mr. Swanö. This results in a wondrously addictive song that’ll stick in your head like a rusty Bowie knife. It’s a tremendous way to open an album and the best is yet to come.Follow up “In the Eyes of Idols” has a rock style mixed with classic melo-death as Dan’s vocals (both deathy and cleans) sometimes take on an arena rock vibe, and “Rapture Ballet” is one of the best songs so far in 2016. It’s just a monster of a tune featuring all the things I’ve come to love about Swanö’s work: first-rate riff-craft, excellent vocal melodies and a keen ear toward hooks. It reminds me of vintage Stratovarius mixed with classic King Diamond with some quality melo-death added for depth and body. Also impressive is the grim, brooding emotion and angst of “The Examiner,” and the doomy heft of “Marionette” where Dan outdoes himself vocally, balancing slick clean singing with guttural death roars.The centerpiece is the 14 minute title track which has a strong Edge of Sanity vibe running throughout as it jumps from mega-melodic to doomy to deathy. As with any long song, the quality of the writing can be weighed by how fast the time goes by and here it flies! The Hand ov Swanö keeps things moving and engaging throughout and with Ragnar’s unquestionable guitar chops things stay technical but always accessible and compelling. It isn’t quite as immediate as the shorter tracks but it’s a grower with a lot of quality moments waiting to be discovered within.As the 14 minutes of the title track flies by, so do the 47 minutes that compose The Northern Sanctuary. It’s got a great flow and it’s one of those albums you put on and spin straight through to the end. There are no duds and even the weakest track (“God of Ruin”) is still a pretty righteous song loaded with atmosphere and high caliber performances. Since the album was produced by Captain Dan, you know it will sound first-rate and it does, with a rich mix. I can’t speak to any potential forthcoming vinyl mixes, but this sounds just fine as it is.You’d certainly never know this was a two-man project with all that’s going on musically. Dan handles vocals, keyboards and drums and does his usual high level job. His vocals in particular have gotten better and better and when he sings he sounds a lot like Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers) with a bit of Piet Sielck’s (Iron Savior) gruffness. The highly dramatic style of his singing can seem over-the-top at times but it works and his cleans are used sparingly enough to achieve maximum effect whenever they pop in. His keyboard and piano work is also strong, and the understated closing piano interlude “Vila i Frid” is especially touching. The guitar-work by the ever mysterious Ragnar is once again impressive, ranging from Michael Romeo-esque corkscrew riffs to wild solos and soft, nuances pluckery. The man has game and he brought it here. Though a technical wiz kid he shows admirable restraint across the album, never wanking when winking would suffice. I don’t know where Dan found this character, but he was lucky he did so.I was very taken by The Inheritance, but this is a superior album in all ways. The songs are bigger, the writing more confident and inspired and everything just feels larger than life. Dan Swanö has been successful at everything he’s done in the metal world and The Northern Sanctuary is yet another trophy for his already cluttered Hall of Fame. This will be on many a year end list so don’t miss out. Now kindly gets these other swanos off my damn lawn!" - Angry Metal Guy
  • Deluxe CD/DVD digipak edition."More than 30 years after helping spread the genre across the world, it’s amazing how many Bay Area thrash bands are still around and making new music. Metallica, Slayer, Testament, Exodus and many others are still very relevant. Death Angel are another Bay Area thrash group that’s alive and well. Their latest album is ‘The Dream Calls for Blood.’A new generation of re-thrash bands has helped keep the mantle alive, but bands like Death Angel are still thrashing as hard as they did back in the day. The formula is simple: fast riffs, shredding solos and memorable melodies. You’ll find them in spades on ‘The Dream Calls for Blood.’The album gets off to a rollicking start with “Left for Dead,” a massive dose of old-school thrash goodness. Death Angel change things up a bit with “Son of the Morning,” a more moderately paced track with a groove that won’t quit.The 2013 version of Death Angel includes the band’s heart and soul, vocalist Mark Osegueda and guitarist Rob Cavestany. Meanwhile, guitarist Ted Aguilar has been in the band since 2001, and the newest additions are bassist Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carroll. This is the second album for Sisson and Carroll, who first appeared on 2010‘s ‘Relentless Retribution.’Founded back in 1982, Death Angel have not mellowed with age. Osegueda’s vocals have even more bite than usual. His varies his delivery, and some periodic gang vocals add even more diversity.The dual guitars of Cavestany and Aguilar shred and gallop from beginning to end. From simple riffs to complex solos, their playing is always on point.The acoustic guitar is brought out for the interlude “Execution,” a brief respite before the thrash resumes with ‘Don’t Save Me.’ Some of the other album highlights include ‘Succubus,’ a memorable song with multiple solos, and the closer ‘Territorial Instinct/Bloodlust,’ the longest song on the album at over 6 minutes. It also has an acoustic beginning before kicking in.And while there are many re-thrash bands who are talented and flying the flag for the old school, there’s nothing like the original. Death Angel were one of the early bands in the genre, and ‘The Dream Calls For Blood’ shows that three decades later, they are still running on all cylinders." - Loudwire
  • "Sometimes, as strange as it may sound, tragedy inspires creativity. Such seems to be the case with the latest release from Canada's Into Eternity, one of the brightest stars on the progressive extreme metal landscape. In the last two years, bandleader, songwriter, and guitarist Tim Roth lost his mother, and then later on, two of his best friends, both brothers, died from cancer within two months of each other. Many would have crumbled under the weight of such loss, but Roth was able to move on, digging down deep and using his grief and anger to come up with the concept for The Incurable Tragedy, an epic technical metal extravaganza that runs the gamut of all the human emotions that one goes through in a situation like Roth dealt with over the last two years.Though shorter than some of the past Into Eternity albums, it's no less spectacular and perhaps this concept album is better suited for a less lengthy, more direct approach. Instrumentally, the guys are blazing as always, Roth and Justin Bender ripping some insane guitar harmonies on the complex mind-bender "Diagnosis Terminal", while drummer Steve Bolognese and bassist Troy Bleich provide the intricate rhythms. Despite all the wild instrumental interplay that has seen the band's musical talents continually grow (all the touring with bands like Symphony X, Dream Theater, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Megdeth, and Dark Tranquility has obviously paid off), the thing that grabs you the most here, are the multi-faceted vocal dynamics. Stu Block has developed into one of the most impressive singer in extreme metal, and his wide assortment of raging, Halford-ish wails, black metal screams, death metal growls, and melodic clean passages, is wonderfully on display throughout this CD. Just listen to his gorgeous melodic voice on "The Incurable Tragedy I (September 21, 2006)", or his assortment of extreme metal styles on "Tides of Blood", showing his great versatility. Of course, having the superb backing vocals from Roth and Bleich also helps, as both of these guys also are able to mix in solid extreme styles as well as clean vocals depending on what the songs need. All three turn in fine performances on the excellent "Indignation", one of the CD's strongest cuts, and a perfect example of how Into Eternity combines complex, technical progressive metal, death metal, varied vocal styles, lots of melody, and a compelling story.In the end, The Incurable Tragedy is gripping stuff, especially from a concept/storyline perspective, but also the album grabs you by the throat musically as well, delivering a statement that Into Eternity are now ready to play with the big boys, even though for many of us they have already been there for a few years now.Easily one of the best releases of 2008 folks-a concept album of epic proportions that carries a message that is totally relevent in this day and age." - Sea Of Tranqulity
  • "See here, they have managed to get a deal. MOURNING CARESS, Germany's finest Melodic Deathers! A Spanish label, Arise Records, won the competition, not a bad thing, because they have a good distribution, so Arise-releases are available everywhere.What has changed compared to the mini "Perspectives"? Basically nothing, apart from the even better sound and longer playing time. The highlights of the mini, "A Lifeless Time" and "Hope Dies At Last", can be found here, too, sounding fatter, but apart from that untouched, which is good! What makes MOURNING CARESS differ from the rest of the countless Melodic Death-acts? Not that they play a totally new variant of this style, they just write good songs and have a feeling for gripping melodies without losing control over the song. I even can detect a certain Rock'n'Roll-touch. The super-fat production by Andy Classen (mastered in Finnish Finnvox) crowns the whole thing. Doesn't sound too spectacular, it isn't anyway. The songs often are further enhanced by some acoustic interludes. Mid-paced numbers are in the majority, but the folks also have a few faster tracks in the repertoire. Good Melodic Death doesn't need to come from Sweden. Unfortunately we have a real flood of musically comparable products."Imbalance" for sure is among the better releases. Also remarkable is the quite original voice of singer Gerrit, with a slight Hardcore-touch, which is very characteristic. So, if you see this, arrest it! " - Metal Observer
  • "Since a long time I have stored in one of the synapses in the very deep part of my brain some information about a small country named Andorra somewhere in Europe. By its name I would assume that it would be close to Spain if I ever need to recall that information for further processing. In 2011 that information surfaced back into my brain when I found out (thanks to my dear friend Vagelis) that not only it exists but it a band from that country kicks serious ass. That was the time that I found about NAMI. Upon further inspection and research I found that while NAMI was at their first album there was another band that had already released three albums and they were also into kicking arse. That band is PERSEFONE. Two years later and back into present I was really excited to hold the promo for their brand new release “Spiritual Migration” and indeed the only two words that came out of my mouth from the first notes were “Fuck” and “Yeah” with lots of exclamation marks.“Spiritual Migration” is the fourth progressive death metal album follower of the “Shin-Ken”, a conceptual story that unfolds in 13 tracks. The album starts with the instrumental “Flying Sea Dragons” creating an epic tone before the first blast of highly concentrated progressiveness strikes with “Mind As Universe”. Riffs high as the sky, terrific solos, crazy drumming, kick arse bass, raging and beautiful clean vocals and on top of all keyboards that dress and bind everything into one solid entity. Nothing gets into standard forms but instead the band is insanely unpredictable changing tempos, styles, brutality and whatever else you name with amazing ease making each part flow into the next one effortlessly and naturally. The duration of the compositions is varying, having four out of them clocking over seven minutes (“The Majestic of Gaia”, “Inner Fullness”, “Spiritual Migration” and “Returning To The Source”). There are also four instrumental tracks that are very beautiful and add to the overall atmosphere of the record.PERSEFONE continue to evolve the sound that has defined in “Snin-Ken”. They continue based on the soul recipe of progressive and very technical Death Metal that is fused with atmospheric parts that enhance the overall outcome of the record. This time the lyrics deal with Buddhism, meditation and spirituality and it is really cool to see bands that deviate from the classical hate god / praise Satan stereotype (sic). The songs are heavier than before and the brutal vocals tend to be a bit deeper than those of the previous records. Concerning the performance of the band all the band members are delivering astonishing performances using the best of their instruments. The brutal vocals might estrange some (I quickly got used to them) but they serve their purpose more than well while the clean ones contradict perfectly with them and offer moments of tranquility amongst the Death Metal onslaught. The artwork has been done by none other than Travis Smith and is another great work by him. Finally the record was mixed by Jacob Hansen in Denmark who also has worked with VOLBEAT, PESTILENCE and DESTRUCTION.It is surprising, in a good way, that Andorra has very cool bands which deliver very good records. PERSEFONE being one of those bands, has delivered an amazing record that is full of complex structures, unpredictable riffing, epic atmospheres and sheer raw brutality and a very intelligent concept. Put the speakers on, sit down comfortably, close your eyes, open your mind and get ready for “Spiritual Migration”." - Metal Temple
  • Latest album from this brilliant Swedish band balances all of their previous output into one great work. Simply killer progressive death metal. Highly recommended.
  • After a long silence Israel's best known death metal band returns. "Mabool" is the band's third album - a concept work with a Biblical theme. The band has always had a unique slant to their sound and it carries on's an eclectic mix of death metal and Middle Eastern flavors. I always would kid about this band and describe their sound as "death metal goes to a bar mitzvah". Comes with a bonus disc in which the band does acoustic versions of some of their old material as well as a cover of "Mercy" from Paradise Lost. Avant-metal that really deserves to be heard.
  • "SOLUTION .45 is Melodic Metal/Melodic Death Metal band based out of Sweden. Formed in 2007, this is the band’s third LP, and nearly a year after releasing “Nightmares in the Waking State, Part One.” “Part II” contains ten new tracks. “Dim are the Pathways” leads off the album. I have always maintained that you can tell a lot about an album by the intro track. They present a prophetic sound with symphonic instruments and a feeling of forthcoming doom. It segues nicely into “The Faint Pulse of Light,” which is a deep and dark song, complete with complex instrumentation and energetic Death vocals that rattle your very soul. “Mind Mutilation” continues with the heavy and brutal sound, but we hear the clean vocals here for the first time. The extended lead guitar solo leaves you whirling, like you were slowly being drowned by happiness.“Built on Sand” is tenuous at first, but quickly turns into a sonic boom, with supercharged lead guitars and ultra-heavy beats. From there it settles into melodic bliss, with clean vocals in the verses, and a noticeable groove that just keeps you moving. Instrumental prowess is on full display in this extended track. “Inescapable Dream” has great rhythmic qualities for sure. They match the clean vocals with that rhythm and the harsh vocals with a different rhythm. It’s this kind of push and pull that really defines their sound in my opinion. Try not to sing along with the chorus…you can’t resist. One thing I have come to look forward to with each release from this band is the song with all clean vocals. “The Curse that Keeps on Giving” is that track on this album. Soaring vocals pierce impossibly thick and dark clouds and end up as goosebumps on your arms and neck. “What Turns the Wheels” is beefy and lumbering as it opens but shortly refines to a more tender sound both in the verses and chorus. The melody is constructed in a melancholy sadness that also gives off rays of hope. “Misery Mantra” has sound unlike any other on the album. I get a SCAR SYMMETRY type of vibe from the way the instruments intersect. The chords also progress in a surprising but pleasing way, like you can’t guess where they are headed but ultimately like where they do. I think it just shows very seasoned songwriting chops.“Heavy Lies the Crown” closes the album. It’s a great culminating song for the album. There is a heavy Djent rhythm at the bottom end but delicate harmonies and supporting background melodies add many layers to this sound. Toss in the Death vocals and this is a salad with about as many ingredients as you can have without losing any definition. The album is wonderful. This is a band that really can do it all. If they were just a Death Metal band you would be pummeled with intelligent brutality. If they were only singing in clean vocals, the melodic sensibilities would seek to overwhelm you emotionally. The combination of the two…rich, complex and sublime." - Metal Temple
  • "When multiple members of a sextet juggle recording and touring responsibilities for known entities such as Kreator, Turisas, and Moonsorrow, rest assured that new studio product isn’t going to hit the streets for a little while. Finnish progressive melodic doom/death metal act Barren Earth face their biggest challenge though to date beyond scheduling issues since their beginnings in 2007, as their third full-length album On Lonely Towers represents the vocal debut of Faroese native Jón Aldará – for Swallow The Sun requires Mikko Kotamäki’s full attention at this point in time.To those unfamiliar to this band’s approach, these musicians offer up a heavy slice of Scandinavian death/doom, while also injecting a love of 70’s progressive rock in a lot of their piano/organ passages, spirited instrumental sections, and outside the box epic arrangements or left-field saxophone use. Early on they may have been considered sons of Opeth meets Amorphis, but not anymore. When they choose to be straight ahead doom in the closing sections of “A Shapeless Derelict”, the mid-range operatic bellows and evil heavy riff combination are classic Candlemass trademarks. Sami Yli-Sirniö and Janne Perttilä excel at layering guitars plus emotive, meaningful lead sections as the supplementary keyboards, bass and drums move in an alluring cadence that you can’t help but be swept into its melancholic majestic splendor – even at a close to 12 minute timeframe as in the title track.Jón can gurgle from the swampiest lands (check out his Christian Älvestam register on the culturally adventurous “Set Alight”) but deliver these chill bump clean textures that recall the best work of Dan Swanö on “Howl”. And take a microscopic aural approach to the saxophone passages during “Sirens of Oblivion” – exotic, jazzy and occasionally syncopating to the churning guitars (2:36-2:51) but then free flowing in a lighter, progressive context during the subsequent instrumental section.Barren Earth stands head and shoulders above a lot of the progressive doom/death pack because of their solid songwriting chemistry and ability to never push technicality over the limit to lose the human feel that makes On Lonely Towers special. Given North America’s proclivity to applaud foreign metal over much of the domestic product these days, you would be wise to add these 9 cuts to your playlist immediately." - Dead Rhetoric
  • "Back in 2008, Arkan helped to expand the diversity of metal even further by including Arabic and oriental sounds in brutal death metal with the “Hilal” album. Although not without its flaws, the release showed that metal can’t be pegged down and all fans of the genre should learn to expect the unexpected. In the three year interim, Arkan has matured and progressed this burgeoning sub-genre of “oriental metal” to create an album that isn’t just a mashup of two diverse styles, but a complete package that will be hard to top in future releases.Like with its predecessor “Hilal” (reviewed here), the Arabic sounds and influences rarely detract from the heaviness on the album. Rather than being a primarily symphonic metal experience, “Salam” sticks fairly consistently to a heavy vibe. The first half of the disc tends to be more crushing than the second half, which has more instrumental interludes, but overall the album is constantly on a simmer getting ready to explode with death metal at any given moment.This time around the band also makes frequent use of clean female vocals for an added melodic element alongside the deep death growls, and Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land even makes a guest appearance on the song “Deus Vult.” Besides simply changing up the vocal styles, the music itself is much more varied and willing to explore new territory than in the last release. Rather than being relentlessly brutal in some parts and then completely ethnic and melodic in others, the songs instead go for a measured and properly paced assault that blends the two. The tracks also have consistently more staying power this time around, with elements of other metal styles working their way into the guitar playing.The 37 second instrumental “Common Ground” is where the disc shifts into a more melodic focused atmosphere. It’s not clear if anything is supposed to be read into the length and title of the song, such as if the band is trying to say there’s not enough common ground or common ground is only a small step away from the various religions of the world. Overall the song titles and lyrics seem to head in a direction similar to Orphaned Land, touching on issues of how religions impact the world.For anyone who liked the idea of Orphaned Land but wanted a much stronger death metal presence, “Salam” is a must-hear album. The band’s second full-length outing is a fantastic blend of modern heavy death metal with traditional Middle Eastern sounds." - Metal Underground
  • "SOLUTION .45 is a side project made up from musicians who are or were currently in bands SCAR SYMMETRY, MISERATION, SONATA ARCTICA and STATOVARIUS. The band released their debut album in 2010, with guest musicians Mikka Haarkin (ex-SONATA ARCTICA) and with Mikael Stanne (DARK TRANQULITY) providing the lyrics. Following some line-up changes over the past five years, the band presents their second full-length album here which contains ten tracks.“Wanderer from the Fold kicks off the album. It has a fast paced, get-up-and-go sound, and an almost futuristic quality to the balls-out chorus. If I didn’t know any better, I might mistake the song for a track from SOILWORK. There are also some nifty key changes and lightning fretwork from the lead guitar. The clean vocals in “Protecting the Void” are just sublime, and are in sharp contrast from the overall brutality of the remainder of the sound. The diversity of the vocals is also duly noted. Adding in some acoustical complexities and more subdued harmonic singing in “Bleed Heavens Dry,” the track also features a really strong chorus that seems to beam light straight into the dark skies above. “Where Losing is All” could go either way in terms of anger or pensive introspection, and it seems to encompass both. Once again the vocal harmonies are the highlight of the song in my opinion.“In Moments of Despair” is the breezy, ethereal song on the album, akin to “Lethean Tears” from their first solo outing. The subtle use of piano augments the emotional passages marked again by the beauty of the voice of Christian Alvestan. When the electric guitars, bass and drums hit the ground together, the magnitude of the moment could be heard on another world. It’s almost enough to reduce you to tears. “Targeting Blaze” is another undeniable winner, alternating between warm, playful melodies, and the crushing inevitability of death. You can listen to this with an enormous smile while pounding your fists and feet at the same time. Artfully alternating the method of impact that the album delivers to you is the song “Alter the Unbearable State of Nothing,” which features spacy, zippy sounding keyboards over a spiked bed of uncompromising Death Metal. This song is like an oversized asteroid beaming towards Earth, bouncing and knocking off of everything in its path without wavering in speed or force.Closing the album is the over-eleven minute closer “Nemesis.” What a solidifying and all-encompassing way to display the bevy of sounds and techniques that they have on masterpiece of an album. It has a slow, grinding intensity and a well of darkness that knows no depth. You can definitely sense growth in the band from the line-up changes and additional time together to compose since their first album. Though there is plenty of heavy, bottom end meatiness and Death Metal punch, I find the moments of beauty, harmony, emotion and soul-bearing vocals to be the best part of this cornucopia of auditory bliss. If they made this their full time gig, all the other bands in this style just got put on notice." - Metal Temple