Sound: TorchBearer is an incredibly symphonic Melodeath band who is still riding high from their most recent release "Death Meditations". This album features a huge wall of sound that surrounds you and never fails to impress. The twin guitars are riffing and solid and there are some mindblowing guitar solos. Then there is the sick rhythm section which features some really solid drum work. On certain tracks there is even some cool synthesizer work which really helps to make a massively melodic sound. The vocals are brutal and very well done. Finally the lyrics are epic in feel and often very serious and deep. For me the sheer attack and riffage of the twin guitars is a big part of what makes this band so brilliant.
The guitar work is excellent and the sheer scale of some of the work is mindblowing. For example the guitar on the track "Severings" features an incredibly powerful riff followed by a solo that is so intensely melodic it makes "Clayman" look weak. The guitars are not afraid to go acoustic for long periods of times though, for example on the track In the "Shadows Of Leaves" there is a beautiful acoustic solo that gives us a pause from the sheer brutality of the rest of the album. Of course this acoustic track is followed up by "Death Meditations" which features so much raw melody from the guitars that it makes my head hurt.
The rhythm section is also cool. While it is nothing overly spectacular there are definitely some good aspects about it. The bass is rarely audible and gets only a few mediocre fills. The drums are also a bit dry after a while. The battered 16ths on the toms have a tendency to get really repetitive after a couple of songs. Overall this rhythm section is steady but it is nothing to be put completely in awe of. I feel that if the band expanded upon their rhythm section then they might have a better sound. In short this rhythm section does nothing spectacular, it just does its job.
Before we move on I would like to say a few words about the synth. I find that the synth work on this record to be completely brilliant and very symphonic. I feel that when TorchBearer uses a synthesizer they have a sound that is a lot more melodic and epic. If Torchbearer where to add a synth player to their band I feel that they would have an even better sound and come to be a really big name in the melodeath scene. // 9
Lyrics: The vocals on this album are pretty good. Par has a brutal singing voice that makes me want to headbang. While typically his vocals are very aggressive and angry on certain tracks he can stretch out his growls and make them sound sickening and grossly powerful. Par has growls that are very dark and on the level of bands such as Frozen Infinity and early Scar Symmetry. Occasionally his singing adopts more of a sing a long feel to it and the music feels kind of triumphant and this provides an interesting break from the normal attack. Occasionally though his vocals get a bit generic and become a bit less engaging. However, all in all Par Johansson has a great voice and is fun to listen too.
The lyrics on this album are excellent and often very well thought out. I am very fond of "Coffin Shaped Heart", with lyrics like, "No heavens would care, If you only did dare, Sigh and moan, Cry or scream". Lyrics like these give the album a true sense of anger. As a whole the lyrics are serious and are often meaningful. Another good example of the brutality of the lyrics is found in the first 4 line of "Penumbra" which say; "Sands brought by storming air, Covering all that was of good, Killing and suffocating any organism, To make fertile lands unborn". You get the idea. In short the aggressive lyrics are an extension upon the attack found in the rest of the album. While this is not always extremely original it usually comes over as fairly good and the lyrics are worth looking at. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall this band has a really great sound that is very full and powerful and all in all very enjoyable. I am particularly fond of the powerful guitar work. However other excellent things about this band feature the powerful rhythm section and the beautiful keyboards. Another good aspect of this band is the brutal vocals, that while a tad generic are still pretty awesome. Finally the lyrics are cool and they have a good death metal feel to them. To finish, this band is a wonderful melodeath group and there new record "Death Meditations" is a sick listen. // 9