Sound — 10
Out of Finnland comes four boys that may have one onf the most unique sounds in all of underground metal today. Immortal Souls, started in 93', have spent all that time honing their skills and finding their own unique style to leave on metal, so let me introduce to you their sound. They call themselves "Wintermetal", because of the subject matter of their lyrics and the feelings that the music is supposed to invoke. But for the very genre-specific people (like me) their sound on this album is like few I have heard before. They have huge, heavy riffs. They have crazy guitar solos. And they write some of the best melodies I have ever heard. E. Sarkioja, the lead guitarist, is incredibly innovative in his use of fast, heavy, and catchy riffs. And this is where they get their sound. It is strange for black/death metal to be so melodic, because usually thoes bands all go for heaviness, but the melodies on the guitar are high and soaring. The leadwork is incredible. If you expect this to be a guitteral pummel-fest (witch I do like, just not in this case) then you will be suprised to find that you will be humming the riffs and solos that you find here. Most of the songs follow the same pattern of Inro-Verse-Pre-Chorus-Chorus and so on, but in this case it serves to flesh out the tasty likcs and riffs, and the solos that are on almost every bridge. I am really a fan of shredding, and Immortal Souls certainly delivers. Just like good metal. And all the solos compliment the songs, they aren't just mindless shred-fests. It adds another level of intensity to the music. I like that alot. Key songs are "Everwinter", "Sacrifice", "Suicidealive", and "Cold Streets" Former drummer Jupe Hakola and rythm guitarist Pete Loisa provide a killer base for E.Sarkioja's awesome lead-work. The double bass is kicking constantly, and there are some good blastbeats and just overall good, tight drumming. The vocals would place them under the death/black metal genre, and the vocalist/bassist A. Sarkioja (the leads brother) has a nice crisp growl that fits the music really well. And unlike a lot of metal bands, it is exactly where it should be production-wise. It isnt mixed so quietly that you can't hear it and it dosent take the front so it ruines the music. It adds to the heaviness, and, dare I say, beauty, of the music. And for thoes of you familiar with their earlier work, this is not so much a departure from their old sound, as and evolution into new boundries. Old fans will like it and new fans will find something to add to their collection. This is good, well done metal. And if you buy it in America, don't let the "Facedown Records" label fool you, they are just distributed from Fear Dark Records in europe through Facedown. Some people on the internet have called them hardcore, but this is not some "Palm mute the oped D chord" stuff. This is some real metal. It has a nice bite, and nice production. Definitly worthy of a ten. Check these bad boys out!
Lyrics — 8
As I said before, the lyrics usually have a winter or cold theme to them. This is a Christian band, so if you have liked what you have read up to this point, don't let that deter you. They take spiritual things and circumstances and just compare them to the environment that surronds them. The lyrics do mention (gasp) Jesus Christ and God sometimes, but it is nothing that is preachy or that will turn off someone that isnt into "Christian" music due to a pre-conceived notion of what it is. Anyway, the vocals are great, with A. Sarkioja providing a nice, crisp, death/black metal growl. It totally adds to the music. The only problem in this category is the clean vocals, it is only on two songs, "You" and the closer "Man Of Sorrow", and on the latter song it dosent really hurt it to bad. It wouldn't be my choice, but "Man Of Sorrow" is a good song, so it dosent really detract much from it. It kills "You" though. They went outside the band to get a clean vocalist in the studio (Kimmo Pulkien), and he sings almost power-metal style vocals, witch are out of place, but agian, it only really hurts "You", witch is a cool song, but the vocals just detract from it. So if you can either forget the vocals and just listen to the music or just skip that song, the rest of the album is well done. I love the frost-bitten lyrics and as a Christian myself I like what the band has done as far as tying in their faith with the cold lyrical content. Key tracks to check out are "Sacrifice" and "Edge Of The Frost", but the lyrics shine on every song. Check it out.
Overall Impression — 9
It is really hard to compare this to other albums. I have heard comparisions to "In Flames" and "Opeth", but I don't listen to either of thoes bands. They were what was on the sticker Facedown placed on the wrapping, so I am wary of that connection, but if you listen to them, email me and tell me if that's what Immortal Souls can be compared to so I know! I think they have some similarities to Living Sacrifice, and Frost Like Ashes, and some power/prog type stuff, but comparing them to other bands does not do them justice. You just have to hear them for yourself. Trust me, you wont be dissapointed. This is not another "Hot Topic" band. The shredding solos, awesome riffing, heavy, tight, technical playing, and great vocals are sure to have you rocking in no time, and this will be stuck in your CD player (or iPod, or whatever) for a long time. Trust me. Check them out on Purevolume.com or one of the Myspace's that fans have made. If this CD got stolen, I would buy another one in a heartbeat. Do not pass this band or album up. I think we will be seeing much more from Immortal Souls in the years to come. So geat ready to go on an awesome sonic journey to the cold depths of underground metal with Immortals Souls awesome Ice Upon The Night. You can thank me later.