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Three years after announcing their retirement, German goth metal institution Crematory changed tack and reformed, heading back into the studio and emerging a few months later with their eighth album (and tenth overall) in 2004's Revolution. A misleading title which longtime fans should not take at all literally, Revolution effectively picks up the thread right where 2000's Believe left off, delivering a slew of astonishingly clean and economical tunes entirely devoid of gothic rock's oftentimes dragging, lumbering self-absorption. At the same time, unlike other gothic-minded metal bands (Swedes Tiamat and Brits Anathema coming straight to mind), Crematory's approach to songwriting hasn't completely relegated their metal roots to the past. Quite the contrary, as new offerings like "Wake Up," first single "Greed," and the title track retain the ragged-edged metal riffing and death-styled cookie monster vocals of yore, even while welcoming plenty of cleanly sung, easy-to-remember choruses, widespread synth abuse, and relatively simple, pop song structures. Introduced by opening instrumental "Resurrection," this at once simple and complex blueprint rarely wavers throughout -- unless the band is indulging their rather unique (if ever risky) trip-hop tendencies with the likes of "Reign of Fear," "Tick Tack," and "Red Sky." Once again, not exactly revolutionary, but very contiguous with the Crematory's prebreakup work. Along with the closing ballad -- the heart-achingly mournful "Farewell Letter" -- perhaps the biggest exception is the five-minute "Angel of Fate," which actually allows itself the extra minute or two to stretch out and mine deeper, darker, nicely atmospheric metal reminiscent of Gothenburg metal stars Dark Tranquility. All in all, Revolution is a solid, satisfying, if unsurprising, return to action for this well-established band. One does come away a little hungry for additional variety when everything's said and done, but that's no different from the band's earlier work.

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