Hell & Heaven
posted on 12/2006 By:
Metal from Romania isn’t something you come across every day, but since pretty much every country in Europe seems to have an at least moderately active metal scene, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I encountered some. Well, almost Romanian; GOD are based out of Portugal these days, but core members Constantin and Eugen Lapusneanu hail from Romania and their website claims that they hold second place in all-time Romanian metal sales. Doesn’t say too much, but good on’em for keeping the spirit alive.
Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure that Hell and Heaven will put Romania on the metal map. At the very least, this EP is an interesting and unusual listen; GOD’s style is a (somewhat ungainly) blend of power metal and melodic death metal that also sports a slightly folksy feel. The band’s pacing is deliberate and sweeping, lending an almost Viking sense of windy grandeur to the riffing, and Constantin Lapusneanu has a rather Amon Amarth-y growl that works neatly with the marching pace. Would that the band had lifted more from those Swedes; GOD runs into the most trouble with the power metal dimension of their sound. Though Lipe Silva Costa’s keyboards employ tasteful string and wind vox rather than the usual annoying collection of throwback tones, he is overpresent in the music and makes the band’s folksy dimension sound more hokey than mystical. Constantin’s clean vocals are far worse though; the man is on key, at least, but his voice is semi-operatic to the point of making his serviceable death vox look epic by comparison.
These complaints may seem piddling, but GOD’s songwriting isn’t strong enough to render them completely forgivable. They’re not without their strengths, granted; Eugen Lapusneanu’s lead work is smooth, pure trad-metal goodness, and the droning “Mystic Song” would make an excellent atmospheric piece without Constantin’s distracting vocals. Ultimately, though, I can’t recommend pursuing such a rare four-song EP (there are five tracks, but closer “Riders From Hell” is a scant rearrangement of “Riders of Heaven and Hell” from earlier in the CD) when there’s plenty of stylistically comparable metal that’s better and more easily available.
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