Manifesto of Sentenced

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As one of the few Century Media bands already blessed with a greatest-hits collection before the release of 2009's label-spanning Manifesto series -- that being 1996's Story: A Recollection, which aptly summarized the first half of the Fins' career -- Sentenced were less constricted by CD-length limitations here than most of their label mates. So instead of having to cram a mere track or two from the group's eight studio albums and numerous EPs and singles, this Manifesto set need only trouble itself with the latter-day foursome of 1998's Frozen, 2000's Crimson, 2002's The Cold White Light, and 2005's swan song The Funeral Album, plus a handful of B-sides, live tracks, and a single holdover from 1996's Down LP, which now serve as appetizers for what came before. As a result, this set not only provides fans with a near-perfect snapshot of Sentenced's output with singer Ville Laihiala (who replaced original frontman Taneli Jarva in 1995), but it confirms this second phase that saw their creative direction shifting from death to gothic metal as the most consistent and enduring portion of their body of work (Sentenced were frankly outclassed by the competition as a death metal band). Sure enough, sequenced here in reverse chronological order, melancholy all-time favorites like "Ever-Frost," "Cross My Heart and Hope to Die," and "Killing Me, Killing You" are a model of focused, hook-laden songwriting, culminating in Sentenced's crown jewel, "Broken," which is simply one of the most perfectly realized heavy metal singles of any era. So impressive in this string of "singles", actually, that even the better offerings from the band's early years tacked onto the end here (including two live versions with Laihiala already at the mike and a lone Jarva-era song, "Northern Lights") feel like largely unnecessary just-in-case concessions. In other words, they in no way derail this Manifesto of Sentenced from arriving at its intended destination, and providing the best possible first taste of Sentenced's oeuvre for curious neophytes.

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