Label: Boersma Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: May 11th, 2018
In the endless and convoluted multitudes of metal subgenres, melodic death metal spans a rather large spectrum. Anywhere from soaring anthems like those from Omnium Gatherum to aggressive, sinister tracks similar to Arch Enemy, there is going to be something within this niche of metal for someone to appreciate. Pentarium offers a unique blend of melodeath and other various elements that make this music work in their favor.
The first track, “13”, sets the tone for the record. Aggressive and heavy, it bears a striking resemblance to The Black Dahlia Murder. Full disclaimer; I haven’t listened to much of TBDM—just a few tracks here and there—but enough to pick up on their style. Throughout this track and the rest of the album, there are lots of moments that make me think of the tech-death giants. Contrast of high shrieks and low growls, chugging guitars, etc. This isn’t bad thing; all bands are a culmination of their influences. What Pentarium does is add a more melodic take on the TBDM influence, which is a nice touch. Also notable is the hint of deathcore throughout. It’s not enough to be offensive, but present enough to be noticable. There is a nice build-up to a decent but somewhat disappointing breakdown.
On the track “Flames”, the band weaves in a symphonic element to their melodeath sound. Not quite as elaborate as something like Scepticflesh, but it’s there and it is a nice touch. This track is a nice change of pace from the two opening aggressive tracks by slowing things down a little.
One of the tracks I really enjoyed off this album is “Stare Into Darkness”. Kicking things off with an eerie keyboard, it then goes into a riff that will make even the most stubborn move their head a little. There is a lot of well-placed melodic moments on this track, especially the section that leads up to the guitar solo. Also, this vocalist really gets to show off his chops with this song, going from the upper end of his harsh side to the basement where his growls reside. The growls remind me of those from Phil Bozeman, but with the enunciation of Randy Blythe. This works really well, especially when the chorus comes in saying “Stare Into Darkness”.
“Wo Worte Versagen” contains more of the deathcore side of Pentarium. It starts with a gloomy guitar intro that leads into riff that becomes somewhat repetitive. After the verse, the vocals take an interesting approach by going for the half-spoken/half-harsh sound, almost like one of those narrative parts in a hardcore song. This feels somewhat out of place on the record, as the other songs leading up to this have been more straightforward with their vocal approach. After that, it launches into the first clean vocals we hear on the record, and it’s a bit underwhelming. Musically, it makes sense. It gives a change of style and it’s a bit refreshing to the ears. But there doesn’t seem to be power behind them, and this is really evident because everything else on this record has packed a punch. It could be because they are buried in the mix a little, but it still feels something else should be added to give the vocals a little extra push. Towards the end of the song it seems to be pushing towards a breakdown that never comes, but redeems itself with the chorus coming back in, this time with no clean vocals and a melodic guitar part accompanying it. It’s more of what I was looking for with the first couple of choruses, but reserving this way for the end was a good choice.
The only thing I’ll say about “Memoria” is that after a great heavy intro with an awesome growl propelling it forward, it’s followed up by a “Blegh!” breakdown which killed a lot of momentum the song had. Nothing against the band, I really don’t like that kind of breakdown.
The last track of the album “Vor Dem Sturm” is done entirely in clean vocals. I understand what the band is going for; a slower and more melancholic song without defaulting to their usual aggressive ways. This is something that should be applauded. They are sensitive to what the song is going for and understand that they have to try something new to get their message a across. But, similar to what I was saying previously, it lacks the power that the rest of the album. Because of the lack of power, it also lacks an emotional performance that a track like this has a lot of room for. I realize that they may be doing the best with what they’ve got, and I still appreciate the change up instead of an album full of the same song rearranged differently, but they could explore that area a little more and really develop it into something really great.
This is not a bad record. Fans of melodic death metal will find something that they like on here, whether it be the aggressive vocals, exceptional guitar work, or the symphonic elements scattered throughout. This album does wear its influence on its sleeve, and it’s easy to think about bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder. And there are a few areas where the band can work on and hopefully come back with something stronger. It is nice to see a blend of some different elements at work here; from deathcore to death metal, it works pretty well. Definitely something worth listening to.
4. Rise of The Outer Gods
6. Stare Into Darkness
7. Wo Worte Versagen
12. Vor Dem Sturm
Total Play Time: 54:32