Review: Angelseed – 'Crimson Dyed Abyss'

The advent of the internet, for all of its flaws, has certainly turned heavy metal into far more of a global phenomenon than it originally was. We now know of and can view bands in countries as disparate as India, Iran and Taiwan. It’s a beautiful thing, man.

Another country we can add to the ever-growing list is Croatia. Zagreb-based symphonic/gothic/power/thrash metallers Angelseed came together in 2007 and have settled on a permanent lineup after a few shuffles. They received priceless publicity early on in their career when they supported Within Temptation, but they’ve certainly taken their sweet time over their debut album. A self-titled EP in 2014 did little but whet their fans appetites. Finally, in late November 2015, Crimson Dyed Abyss was released.

If that much time was needed to cook up an album of this magnitude then all is forgiven. Opening track ‘Bloodfield’ gives the listener an indication of exactly what Angelseed are about, from its haunting intro to its reverie-bursting power metal guitar and drums – not to mention some of the most glorious harmonies ever recorded. It is, quite simply, stunning. The unusual vocals are incredible. Not merely a classically trained female vocalist, but also male vocals which give it a serious kick up the butt, as well as the aforementioned harmonising. These all create a style that’s even more densely layered and entrancing than standard symphonic/power metal.

It is an album that is packed to the rafters with drama and theatricality, from the ‘quiet intro loud crash of instruments’ that is so common in symphonic metal, to the gothic turns of phrase and maudlin, regretful tone of many of the songs (‘Man With Black Roses’: the most goth song title ever?), to the whipcracking power metal pace often present. That said, the inclusion of thrashy guitars and drumming (check out the sizzling solo in ‘Schizohead’) and vocalist Ivana Anic Lara’s ballsy yet alluring voice combine to create a sound that is lush and interesting.

Each song clocks in at a symphonic metal-worthy five or six minutes, yet none of them drags on or overstays its welcome, and all of the elements are equally powerful: the guitars blast, the drums pound, the keyboards are gorgeous but not saccharine, and those vocals – particularly the harmonies – are simply sublime.

It’s actually difficult to choose highlights in such a high quality collection, but ‘Bloodfield’ is a must for its sense of drama and the way it encapsulates the feel of the whole album. The opposite ends of symphonic and power metal are perfectly covered with the epic-of-epics ‘Soulcollector’ and the delicate-ballad-with-huge-crescendo album closer ‘Now’.

In the 21st century, when a band from anywhere with an internet connection can release music and be heard, if Angelseed don’t become huge in the symphonic/power metal genres at least, it will be a great injustice. As far as debuts go, Crimson Dyed Abyss is very, very good indeed.

Review: Melaine Brehaut


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