Inverse Records, 2014
For starters, let’s make one thing clear here: …and Oceans has always been – and still is – the most important band for me considering metal music. Consequentially, the debut album of Magenta Harvest appealed to me more than enough, as the band originally started as a duo consisting of two ex-members of this personal all-time-favorite group of mine. And should the claims on their bio be true, the music on Volatile Waters could be just mind-exploding, as its basis is said to lie on the same musical fields that …and Oceans roamed around in ’95.
On the first few listens, the album gives the impression that it’s just a tolerable copy of old classics made by such melodic death metal acts as Dark Tranquillity or Hypocrisy. But as we all already know, patience is a virtue. As one gets more and more conversant with the music, Volatile Waters reveals itself as a more subtle and diverse experience than you might’ve thought it to be. While the previously mentioned musical associations remain, there are some melodies and riffs to be found that make perfectly clear where the roots of this band lie. And as an addition, some of the chord progressions bear a resemblance to pop elements, making the music even more luscious.
We might now agree that the substructure of Magenta Harvest’s music is on very sturdy grounds. Moreover, the base is strengthened by tasteful synthesizer arrangements made with artistry; and instead of dominating the soundscape, they support the songs, giving them more nuances. Additional value is added by the clean vocals, though sadly provided only seldomly. While the growling of Mathias Lillmåns comes out better than I’ve ever heard from him, I’m still left wondering why on Earth those clean parts are not utilized more.
As an obvious downside, there are a few sluggish songs, which really have little to offer. They just come and go, and after the album is finished you probably won’t even think back on them. Not that those tracks would be horrid or unacceptable; they simply get squashed by the other, far superior compositions.
Generally speaking, Volatile Waters is a very solid and enjoyable opener from this company of skillful musicians. Magenta Harvest succeeds at igniting a spark on a genre that has been dead for me for a very long time. It might go without saying, but this slab of music is more than recommended. And if you still feel undecided, you should look up “End and No Remembrance” or “Apparition of Ending,” and reconsider your reservations.
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