Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 5/21/2006
As the Judgment Hour Nears
posted on 3/2007 By:
"Semper Tyrannis blends the raw brutality of bands like Suffocation, heavy melodicism of early At the Gates, and the epic scope and use of acoustic guitars of bands like Opeth and Agalloch."
Those are admirable citations from the band, and my job here would be done were such a description not so misleading. The second reference is by far closest to the mark, but in reality this is to early At The Gates what Slaughter of the Soul was to A Velvet Creation. Basically, underdeveloped and overshadowed. The 'acoustic' guitar work does not extend beyond a couple of short introductions and bridges, and the blessedly infrequent clean vocals sound no more appealing than amateurish Aaron Lewis impersonations. As for Suffocation, well, this is first and foremost melodic death metal, and Suffocation isn't.
Thankfully, that doesn't mean Semper Tyrannis have nothing to offer with this EP. While As The Judgment Hour Nears gets off to a somewhat forgettable start with "Fall From Grace", it is satisfying to realise that, even if unconsciously, this band have more in common with The Crown than In Flames. Everything from the frantic but tasteful drumming, throat-rasping howls and melodic riff progressions to the slightly thin, untamed production could have come by express timewarp from the early '90s. That even includes a refreshing absence of breakdowns or self-satisfying grooves, as the music here definitively centres around the melodic capabilities of the guitars before anything else. To that extent, the remaining three tracks are of a memorable standard, with aggressive, accentuated riffs and respites that set-up headbangable, if not epic climaxes. "A Taste of Solitude" in particular is something of a minor masterpiece, with a massively evil and relentlessly catchy riff swaggering through various critical points in the song, and just getting heavier and heavier on the way. Energetic, faultlessly timed double bass and classy lead guitar complete a song that, structurally, is just perfect.
Semper Tyrannis would have me sold on them if it all came down to structure though. All the pieces of the songwriting puzzle are laid out in a clear and driven fashion, but keeping the entirety melodically interesting and cohesive has never been an easy feat, and this EP falls just short of its obvious aspirations. The lead guitar on "Dressed In Deadly Fog" and "Thorns Upon Your Grave," for example, catches itself out with blaring high-end tremolos that are overeager and carry no melody for the songs, and I challenge anyone who doesn't debunk the clean vocals for their lacklustre execution. While not nearly so serpentine or sophisticated as their blurb would have you believe, As The Judgment Hour Nears nevertheless remains a very solid throwback to an era often passed-up by newer bands, whose idea of a melodic death metal renaissance begins and ends with aping Slaughter Of The Soul.
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