Darkane

Layers of Lies

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Prior to releasing their fourth album Layers of Lies in 2005, Sweden's Darkane had been sidelined for almost two years by everything from solo projects to physical injury to outright exhaustion; but the break did them a world of good and it's a noticeably refreshed -- though still imminently recognizable -- Darkane making their recorded return on this accomplished death metal/thrash album. And energetic death metal/thrash is exactly what we get, following a typically symphonic diversion to open up the LP (and later enriching closer "The Creation Insane"), but there's a lingering meatiness to Darkane's riffing (derived from their death metal roots, no doubt) that really distinguishes them from their mostly thrashier contemporaries, and marks them as something of a less fashion-prone proposition, to boot. At the same time, representative tunes like "Secondary Effect," "Organic Canvas," and the title track stick with traditional verse-chorus-verse structures -- not anything as free-form as old-school death metal, for maximum assimilation. Vocalist Andreas Sydow deserves special mention for his versatility, as he adeptly screams, snarls, and, yes, even sings to match each passage's needs; his choruses usually aided by carefully orchestrated vocal backups from his bandmates. Think Def Leppard gone neo-thrash and -- just kidding -- more like Fear Factory circa Demanufacture, actually. Anyhow, the latter can sound a tad forced on "Fading Dimensions" and "Vision of Degradation," but the surrounding instrumental ferocity generally counters any worries of commercial sellout on the spot. And when they really do break out of character for the trad-metal anomaly "Maelstrom Crisis," Darkane know to keep it short and keep it instrumental -- as if to assure their listeners that they too consider this an experimental aside. Further reason to assume that Layers of Lies will probably connect with fans of other Swedish post-death metal racers like Soilwork and the Haunted, while its added flair for complex riff-changes takes care of those metal-heads who find the latter a little too straightforward.

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