Sound — 8
Finally having a stable lineup, Meltgsnow is ready to unleash their masterpiece, an album 7 years in the making, Black Penance. With a 7 year gap (and a delay in 2009) in between the first album, Greed for Insanity and this release, expectations are high among fans, especially those who have been following the band since their beginnings. Fortunately, for fans of Meltgsnow since the Greed for Insanity days, be prepared to be blown away by Black Penance.
Lyrics — 9
Right from the opening track, Through the Ashes of Providence (which is a spoken track), Meltgsnow lays down and introduces the haunting atmosphere throughout the entire album. The versatility of the band cannot be overstated, as the band displays their various influences throughout the entire album. From Lord Insanity's insane vocal range (from clean melodious singing, to sinister baritone scales, to growls, to high pitched shriek, you name it), to the guitarist's (Zach) display of their love for harmonics on certain tracks (Betrayal and Devil's Mind Ride), to Adrian's insane double pedal-fuelled drumming and (ex) bassist Haiku's heavy bass tone (Black Penance) and melodic bass lines, Meltgsnow is a tight unit, never leaving a single hanging and making sure every detail is attended to. Slow and fast songs are intertwined. Even on slow tracks such as Lost Your Messiah and Black Penance, a dark atmosphere is always present, giving the listener a foreboding and haunting feeling. For example, on Black Penance the heavy palm-muting, the fuzzy bass tone, the slow and heavy drumming provides a nice and heavy atmosphere. Even Lord Insanity's screaming towards the end of the track is infused with emotions, every note picked out carefully. The album ends of with Love for My Seraph, with a short duet towards the end of the track between Lord Insanity and a female vocalist (Candice de Rozario) after the break, following the madness in the first part of the song, letting the album finally end beautifully after a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Overall Impression — 9
The influences from fellow gothic acts are obvious but, infused with Meltgsnow's personal touch to the music, it makes Black Penance an exciting and interesting journey even for the average rock music listener. Listeners who are looking for a shred-fest take note though; Black Penance is anything but one. Guitar solos while tastefully added into the songs does not boast mindless wankery by the guitarists. Instead, they choose to play with their effects (ranging from chorus to reverbs during the mastering process, and of course also thanks to guitarist Zach's perfectionist instincts kicking in!) While the overall sound of Meltgsnow has matured, fans of their insanity fret not, as their insanity level has definitely intensified as well. My picks: Betrayal, Empty Sky, Lost Your Messiah Thanks to Pulverised Records and Meltgsnow for giving us this exclusive early preview! Originally written for Heavy Metal Tribune.