The thing about any melodic death metal record is that there is a formula to it, no matter how much purists will decry that statement as heresy. (The very fact that such “purists” exist is a testament to said formula’s existence.) The formula generally consists of equal parts power metal and doom (with a dash of thrash thrown in for good measure) supporting triumphant guitar leads and powerful, guttural vocals. If the band is inclined to step outside the realm of pure death metal, the addition of an ethereal female guest vocalist is always a plus.
Unfortunately, it’s on this last point where Coldbound’s sophomore effort The Gale suffers its one and only real misstep. “The Eminent Light,” a synth-heavy track which probably wouldn’t have otherwise made any real impression one way or another, features one of the most cringe-worthy vocal spots ever provided on a metal record. The “melody,” if it can indeed be called that, is akin to something found on early Slipknot records when Corey Taylor was still “pretending” not to be able to sing, though it lacks any of the latter’s ever-present conviction. Ironically, on a song meant to counterbalance band mastermind Pauli Stroika’s earth rumbling death growl, the weak singing actually further pushes that to the forefront.
Make no mistake, Stroika’s growl and his compositional skill are strong, commanding, and engaging right from the beginning of the record. While it doesn’t necessarily break any new ground, all of the performances are stellar and the melodies, in particular, feel very triumphant. For fans of the genre, and especially for fans of breakout acts from the last decade or so like Insomnium, this record is sure to be a welcome addition to the collection. Just maybe skip track number six when settling on a first impression, unless you enjoy things that are, you know, terrible.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson