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6 out of 10
Presentation counts for a lot if you want good reviews, let alone plenty of sales. I know everyone's worried about advance copies of albums finding their way onto the internet, either on torrent sites or eBay, but it's always nice to get a full copy of a release, artwork included. Even if it's just because you've splashed out on some opaque velum paper (which in this case augments the medical diagrams and 'olde worlde' font quite nicely), it still makes me more likely to look favourably on the album. Similarly, a hand-written note from the band asking for a review instead of some unbelievable hyperbole from a PR firm will also garner bonus points, especially in this case, where the back of the note helpfully explains "We're Norwegian! Skål!"
But like I said, these things will get you bonus points - you still need to have the tunes to get a decent mark in the first place. Despite the Norway connection, they're not satanic black metal as one might expect. In fact, it's more of a mixture of thrash, nu-metal and hardcore- basically it's everything you'd expect from a metal band finding their feet on their debut. The intro to 'These Solemn Words' sounds a lot like early Machine Head, as does the majority of the album, with everything either thrashing or chugging away with abandon. The vocals that aren't screamed are shouted more than rapped, but there is a certain bounce to them that also brings Raised Fist to mind.
The imaginatively titled 'Seven' is the only song to really break the mould, with some spooky feedback and wind (field recordings, not a clarinet) on the intro leading into a more considered, mostly instrumental number, that I'd associate with bands like Isis instead of the more 'Neanderthal' end of the metal spectrum. Don't worry, it goes back to down-tuned mosh for the remainder of the album though.
Overall, it's solid if a little uninspired, but it's only their first release, and if they expand on their progressive ambitions and reign in the drop-D a bit, they might be able to break away from the pack.
1. Unite & Repossess
2. These Solemn Words
5. Between Sinners & Cynics
8. Bedtime prophecies
9. Shiver, Come Nightfall
10. Amy to the Ground