Design 19

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Sundown originally started as a side project for Cematary vocalist/guitarist Mathias Lodmalm and Tiamat bassist Johnny Hagel. But after the completion of their first album Design 19, the duo was so enthused with the results that they decided to quit their day jobs and make the project their main goal. For Tiamat, Hagel's defection would prove to be only a temporary setback, but for Cematary, it meant the end of the road, seeing as Lodmalm was the band's prime instigator. Yet Sundown's debut Design 19 actually provides a natural progression from Cematary's final recordings, which had largely abandoned the group's early black metal convictions in exchange for experiments in goth-inflected progressive metal. Despite delving freely in background synthesizer textures, outstanding tracks like "19," "Synergy," and "Emotional" retain a strong heavy metal guitar crunch. Yet other highlights such as "Judgement Ground" (featuring a dry, baritone vocal style reminiscent of middle-era Paradise Lost and Gregorian chants!) and "Slither" tread surprisingly un-metallic ground with their eerie ambience and electronic elements. The band also experiments with Pink Floyd-inspired space rock on interesting instrumental pieces like "112/Ghost in the Machine" and the beautifully eerie "Voyager." A worthwhile release for fans of Scandinavian progressive metal.

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