The death metal/black metal field is full of bands that like to think of themselves as melodic when, in fact, their recordings are generally an exercise in brutality for the sake of brutality. There is nothing wrong with that hammer-to-the-skull approach -- grindcore bands like Cannibal Corpse and Carcass can be great fun if you have a taste for the extreme -- but if Cannibal Corpse's Butchered at Birth is your blueprint, at least be honest with yourself and don't insist that you sound exactly like Ronnie James Dio. That said, there are some death metal and black metal bands that are truly, genuinely melodic -- bands that call themselves melodic death metal or symphonic black metal and really do value intricacy, musicality, craftsmanship and nuance. Progressive Darkness leaves no doubt that Eastern Canada's Moonlyght is such a band. This CD, which was originally released in Canada in 2002 and re-released by Escapi in 2004, has no problem combining black metal's evil-sounding vocal rasp with a strong appreciation of classic '70s and '80s power metal. The black metal rasp one expects from Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir is a main ingredient of Progressive Darkness, but the melodies and harmonies show a strong awareness of Queensrÿche, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other headbangers who defined power metal back in the day. In fact, it's safe to say that if Moonlyght eliminated the raspy vocals and favored clean vocals exclusively (as opposed to having a raspy vocals/clean vocals mixture), Progressive Darkness would probably be lumped in with the power metal revival movement instead of being considered symphonic black metal. Anyone who has appreciated the blend of intricacy and aggression that has characterized At the Gates, Twilight Ophera, Age of Ruin, In Flames and Wehrwolfe will find a lot to admire on this promising debut.