In the U.S., Sentenced is thought of as an underground metal band, but listening to The Cold White Light, it's easy to imagine them being huge in their native Finland, where metal is more commercially accepted and where the lack of sunlight results in an unusually high suicide rate. Sentenced may have started off as a death/black metal band, but the music on The Cold White Light is better categorized as a new kind of pop-metal -- not in the sense of sounding like Warrant or Bon Jovi (it doesn't), but in terms of the verse-chorus-verse song structures and the emphasis on vocal melody. It may be tempting to call the band "sellouts," and many have, but on this album, at least, Sentenced does what they do well enough that that criticism misses the point. Songs such as "Cross My Heart and Hope to Die," "Brief Is the Light," and "Blood & Tears" show the band's gift for stirring, instantly memorable choruses, and the simple four-to-the-bar rhythms they use give the music a stripped-down rock & roll simplicity that is really effective. In fact, this album still manages to be quite heavy, only without being brutal or in your face about it. There are a couple of missteps here, namely "You Are the One" and "Guilt and Regret," which border on the lightweight and saccharine. Also, the band's depressive/suicidal lyrics have a tendency to get hokey and distasteful in spots, coming across more like schtick than sincerity (e.g., song titles such as "Excuse Me While I Kill Myself"). These slight criticisms aside, The Cold White Light still won't please fans looking for a return to Down or Amok, but for those who enjoy depressive, melodic metal with a rock & roll feel to it (and don't mind the pop aspects), it should do the trick.
The Cold White Light Review
by William York