Skeleton Skeletron

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With the release of Skeleton Skeletron, Tiamat have effectively crossed over. Whereas early efforts such as Clouds and Wildhoney found the Swedish deathsters taking heavy metal in new and exciting directions by integrating elements of electronica and goth rock, their sixth album begs the question: have they gone too far? With its female backing vocals, lead-off single "Brighter than the Sun" sounds too much like Sisters of Mercy for its own good, while "Dust is our Fare" features a synthesizer intro borrowed straight from Bronski Beat's "Small Town Boy." Sure, both songs are excellent and display a biting guitar tone which not even heavier goth-rock bands like the Sisters or Fields of the Nephilim ever attempted, but the results may still be too extreme even for long-time Tiamat fans. Likewise, they may not be able to stomach the band's dull cover of "Sympathy for the Devil" and other pedestrian offerings, such as "Church of Tiamat" and "Best Friend Money can Buy." Neither song ever really gets off the ground, and both are dominated by the monotonous, breathy baritone delivery of singer Johan Edlund. Not surprisingly, other memorable cuts like "For Her Pleasure" and "As Long As You Are Mine" all possess powerful power chords with synthesizers being used in a supporting role. Overall, Skeleton is still more cohesive and concise a statement than 1997's transitional and oftentimes sprawling A Deeper Kind of Slumber, but metal fans should approach with caution nonetheless

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