Vintersorg - Cosmic Genesis
Nudging into a class with Opeth, Amorphis and anything Dan Swano touches, Vintersorg have evolved into a cleaner, more traditional doomy progressive metal act, still retaining their dark and oppressive Viking metal cache (lyrics are both in Swedish and English) but becoming frighteningly chummy with power metal riffs and melodies that confound as much as they entice. Vintersorg's vocals are rich and versatile, the man going for a low Crash Test Dimmu croon, a plaintive traditional metal wail and the occasional half-hearted death bark. No wonder he's considered a vocal treasure in the metal underground back home. A truly spacey, spiritual journey through time and space (the lyrics are almost too ambitious for a non-Anglo band; clue: they thank Stephen Hawking, along with a number of other astronomers), soundtracked with majestic prog metal structures that will find this obscure act on a collision course with too many praise-stacked reviews. Rating 8
Memory Garden - Mirage
Memory Garden emphasize and underscore their unique position as a band throne-besat between doom and power metal, Mike Wead in once again to help out with the morose NWOSHM throwbacks and axe attacks. Forsooth, one pines glassy-eyed, brandy in snifter, back to bands like Heavy Load and Overdrive and Candlemass, or more recently, Memento Mori, Solitude Aeturnus, Morgana Lefay, maybe even Opeth, Memory Garden making sure to drag us doomward despite their trebly brightness and busy architectures. Stefan Berglund has one of those anachronistically Swedish metal voices that just makes you believe, and lyrically, the sparse depressed poetry (four out of five members contribute) is a perfect match for the sad sack impending disasters prophesized in Mirage's ten complex, slow tunes of sorrow. Two marks off, one each for the bass drum sound and the guitar sound.