Bereaved

Darkened Silhouette

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Only a few of Darkened Silhouette's songs need be heard to ascertain that the Bereaved enjoy their death metal cooked up in a mid-'90s Gothenburg style: brisk, efficient, and melodic. In fact, thanks to their compact framework, most offerings ("Soaked Mud Remain," "The Bereaved," "Angels Ablaze," etc.) are stylistic ringers for the hyper-speed precision of At the Gates, only with a slightly thicker rhythm guitar sound, somewhat brighter and more musical solos, and nowhere near the unhinged vocal presence of a Tomas Lindberg. But then, that would be a bit much to ask considering guitarist Johny Westerback was forced to handle lead vocals at the last minute following the latest inadequate frontman having been booted from the band. In any event, his contributions, although buried in the mix, are serviceable enough, and the spotlight here is unquestionably on the Bereaved's impressive instrumental interplay -- a clear sign of how long the quartet's been rehearsing for this belated debut album. With that in mind, when an extra layer of sweetening synthesizers is added to other tracks like "Hollow Child" "My Dying Pride" and especially "Devil's Deal," the results are very reminiscent of those other Gothenburg sound architects -- you guessed it -- In Flames. Bottom line, the Bereaved's time-tested but derivative and simplistic formula really starts wearing thin around seventh song "Pathetic," whereupon even the most enthusiastic of death metal fanatics will start wondering if there are any surprises yet to be had (except for the closing ambient synth instrumental "The Abyss," there aren't). Lucky for the band, there's enough of a market for professionally recycled nostalgia such as this to make them many friends.

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