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by Martin Popoff
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Fresh Metal

Dark Tranquillity - Damage Done
(Century Media)

First thing one notices about this elegant, thoughtful and heavy record, is that it doesn't bow to the obviously cohesive, and in doing so, doesn't sound like the fat butter-churn of In Flames or the always speedy bee-lines of The Crown. So creatively, it feels a cut above its state-of-the-art Swede thrash counterparts, because indeed, twists and turns occur everywhere. As soon as you think you've found a circular churning guitar groove, everything stops for Stanne's re-aggressive vocals and martin Brandstrom's myriad tinkling sparkling keyboards, a breadbasket of effects which pretty much ascribes to the band "a sound," or at least a recurring trademark blueprin. So even if Damage Done is the heavier, more guitary and growly back to the roots album folks are (shotgun, brushstroke) calling it, there are still a lot of keyboards - both in backwash and piercing, pulsing mode. But wisely, the band has dovetailed these into the epic, progressive, always fresh mash of the band's elder Soilwork vibe. And every track and a half or so, you are headbanged through the wall, Dark Tranquillity finding Maiden moments more intense than any from the leg-warmered ones themselves, essentially the same tingle burned by In Flames, only here there are more of them. In this lusty metal direction, highlights would graciously and regally include Single Part Of Two, Cathode Ray Sunshine, Hours Passed In Exile and Final Resistance, all sobbing sorrowfully with northern mountain man guitars buttressed by reverberating hi-fidelity drums. A classic example why the tightly packed Swedish thrash scene deserves to be the next nu-metal.
Rating 9.5

Eidolon - Coma Nation
(Metal Blade)

Ex-King Diamond guitarist Glen Drover and his pummeling power metal act Eidolon return with another record of crushing, serious, oddly doomy power metal well outside the norm of the genre. Where Eidolon find such steely and sinister riffs is beyond me but here you go, Canada's premiere contingent providing pounding but professional and still very shining compositions like Hunt You Down, From Below and Scarred which metalize outside of time, too heavy for the happy meal metal of Europe but just as meticulously recorded and aristocratically guitared. And vocalized. Man, in the spirit of ousted vocalist Brian Soulard (I thought he ruled; never had any problem with him, which contrasts with the experience of the band who never quite warmed to him) new belter Pat Mulock re-proves the mastery he exhibited with local Toronto band Rampage, soaring like a depressive and howling Sad Winged Halford, the man a perfect match for Eidolon's leaden, almost ancient sounding classical metal tones. I would have liked a little more thump and a little less attack in the bass drums, but I imagine that's Drover's King Diamond experience speaking.
Rating 8

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