Back in November, Croatia’s AngelSeed released their debut full-length album Crimson Dyed Abyss. Although the band formed back in 2007, it wasn’t until 2014 that they released any music, in the form of a self-titled EP as part of a limited run. This, along with gigs and tours in support of bands like Within Temptation, put them on the metal map, and they’ve been gaining momentum since.
So, the important question is – how is their debut effort? Well, it’s rather good actually!
Some aspects of their sound are somewhat predictable. The general style is centred around a symphonic metal sound with influences from other metal genres such as power metal and thrash. Stylistically, there’s nothing particularly new or original across the album. But while listening to the album, one finds that it doesn’t really matter too much. The music is well written, excellently performed and very enjoyable.
But, quite importantly, there are aspects of the sound that are quite distinctive. In particular, the band has a harmonic approach that is far less predictable than the general style, something that becomes apparent right from opening track Bloodfield. It’s a very strong start to the album, nicely balancing atmosphere, energy, tight riffing and a huge and gorgeous chorus.
The album then explores a number of different metal genres, mostly symphonic in nature, but each track doing something slightly different. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work – the Man With Black Roses chorus for example has slightly awkward phrasing that just doesn’t feel right. But for the most part the exploration of styles is enjoyable, the quality of the songs is pretty consistent, and there is some real standout stuff too. Leaving All Behind is a lovely power ballad, leading into Fallen Angel which is excellent thrash-infused operatic metal that has a fantastic, if unusual, chorus.
The album loses steam a little towards the end. Not because the songs after Schizohead aren’t good, as they are, but the last three or four songs have less about them that particularly stand out. Good quality symphonic metal, but nothing more. That said, the gentle closer Now is very pretty, and shows a different side to Ivana Anic-Lara’s fantastic singing to what we mostly hear up to this point. The album has quite a focus on vocal melodies, and her warm but powerful vocals are a crucial part of that sound.
Another thing very much worth mentioning is the album’s production. When I approach a new album I like to start with a blank slate, and the tight, crisp and dynamic sound was something that immediately stood out to me right from the off. So it was no surprise to discover when planning this review that mixing and mastering were handled by the master, Jens Bogren. The sound really is great and compliments the performances perfectly.
All in all, the album is strong and shows what promise AngelSeed has. On its Facebook page, the band notes that they are fans of others such as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Sonata Arctica and Delain. And you can certainly hear those influences in their music. But they bring enough of their own style and melodies to provide something a little different too – not immediately obvious but it reveals itself when you explore the album more closely.