Declarations Of Secession
posted on 6/2008 By:
Grim and bear it.
Let it be known: Norway ain't got shit on some of these armpits of the greater Chicagoland area. I'll take those frostbitten and barren wooded wastelands over the suburban deserts of 7-11s, corndogs, and bowling alleys any day. Welcome to Aurora. Love it or leave it. Or stay, and write music to convey your suffering. It translates well to black metal, surprisingly. It's not easy to find competent anguish in the central states. Not impossible though, as Overthrone has shown.
The first thing that comes to mind is Cradle of Filth when they were still filthy. Declarations... is unpolished, straight ahead black metal with a very slight NWOBHM (check "Wayfarer") drift. In theory, this combination crushes, but this two-man battalion merely pushes down on you really hard. Their songwriting overall is solid if not a bit "been there, done that", but this is only their first proper release strengthened by almost ten years of demo-ing, so there's room to maneuver. The proof is here in bits and pieces that they just might be a dark force to be reckoned with if they keep fighting the good fight. If I could give you the bad news first (how it usually unfolds), I'd prepare you for Casios set to Castlevania and extended periods of bad soloing, but those set-backs are gradually losing the fight to some heavy-weighted ideas that are pretty damn close to fruition. Take 1:30 into the lead-off track "The Vitriolic Fervor" for instance, this is where the good news hits. They obviously understand the importance of capturing short attention spans with a riff that's "groove" laden but still frosty enough to have you turn the volume knob skyward. Unfortunately, more bad news. They're just as good at killing off some promise with below average and sloppy guitar soloing. I found this approach to be totally unnecessary when what's underneath is more than enough to suffice; it's where the real meat is at. Vocally, I can't argue with singer Toby Nickels' clean baritone style that cuts through the scathing vocal norm. I enjoyed the switch-up. To be honest, I might give some points to Toby Nickels for not calling himself "Nikolai" or something, and actually holding on to his birth-given name, which doesn't exactly scream "Menacing Black Metal Overlord", yet keeps things in perspective. I think all the cool names are taken anyway. And for the keyboard-part connoisseur, there's some pretty cool carnival-esque carnage ripping halfway through the title track. It's these blankets of originality that keep warm their frigid black-death and make for an unexpected listen, in the best possible way. As I mentioned earlier though, there is a haze all over this album in the form of lead guitar work that blurs their fine line. It could possibly be a production thing, as this full-length sometimes carries the burden of a demo-quality recording that saps some energy, but top-notch chops can usually cut through the budget. So the final decision is TKO in favor of sound quality, meaning that the guilty party here is over-confident playing. Nothing that couldn't be solved in a re-match. There are some genius songwriting moments here though (the first half of "Gods And Beasts") that are so vivid in comparison to the sixty-percent bland Declarations Of Secession, that I'm a bit baffled as to what forced their hands to ruin them.
I'll just keep scratching my head while they keep scratching the surface. I'll be here when they get back.
Register to post comments.