With their 2005 debut, The Masquerade, Norway's Chain Collector prove that the melodic death metal template set down by Sweden's Gothenburg-based bands during the mid-'90s is far from spent. Rather, much like In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Arch Enemy before them, they find virtually endless avenues for the contrasting deathly fury with melodic beauty, all the while cramming inherently non-commercial extremity into traditional pop songwriting arrangements (verse/chorus/verse/). That's not to say they actually match the masters' works, only occasionally coming close with standout tracks like "Hierarchy of Murder (Code of Silence)," "Neverwhere" and "Tapping the Vein," whose clean-sung choruses (courtesy of Green Carnation's Kjetil Nordhus) and distinct harmonies fare particularly well against the backdrop of brutality and Cookie Monster vocals provided by Apostasy frontman Svenn Aksel Henriksen. Other worthy cuts, such as "Harvester" and "Fallen Angel" are more confined to frequent bouts of speed-thrashing intensity à la At the Gates, yet likewise lack that outfit's singular flair for barely controlled chaos, real or feigned. Elsewhere, a more pronounced use of synthesizers lends some distinction to "Crucifixion," but additional highlights are conspicuous by their absence, probably because Chain Collector is, after all, a side project, recorded during off days from the musicians' chief concerns, and therefore suffering from lower attention spans in the bargain. Still, The Masquerade offers enough bright spots to entice the serious fans of this particular strain of death metal.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia