Portals to Uphobia

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Following a pair of label-less releases (a common affliction for Dutch death metal bands who are regularly overshadowed by their Scandinavian neighbors), Detonation were approached and signed by leading French metal label Osmose Productions prior to 2003's An Epic Defiance -- a decent enough, if overly predictable example of their chosen melodic death metal style. For its 2005 follow-up, Portals to Uphobia, the band confirms its intentions to stick to its creative guns, but does so with a significant improvement in songwriting to justify the fact, this being easily its most accomplished and satisfying effort yet. With that in mind, it's curious to note that the album artwork (like its predecessor) was designed by Dark Tranquility's Niklas Sundin, since the Swedish masters of the "Gothenburg sound" remain a huge influence on Detonation's quite powerful but always tightly controlled style. Whether running the gamut from pounding death/thrash to melodic synth-assisted mid-sections and back again, or even moshing out from start to finish, on occasion (see "Solitude Reflected"), notable entries like "Into Sulphur I Descend" and "Structural Deceit" are marked by lightning-quick interplay between rhythmic chords and fast-picked notes, and lucid, if slightly abstract (not fantastical) lyrics in the image of their northerly heroes. The title track pulls it all together to perfection, while the brief taste of Spanish guitar heard on the instrumental "Lost Euphoria, Pt. 3" is about as adventurous as Detonation gets, leaving only the occasional standout passage, or inspired solo to sometimes spark the album's slightly inferior second half. In other words, Detonation are clearly not ones for groundbreaking innovation, but for representatives of a style that is obviously too successful to ever go away, Portals to Uphobia is carrying the flame about as well as most contemporary releases.

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