Hands up everyone who believes that what the world need the most is yet another gothic sounding, operatic metal band in the vein of Nightwish, Within Temptation and Evanescence – to name just three of them. There’s thirteen a dozen of those bands so I guess many of you think that enough is enough already, right? But if we add some male growling and screaming then? Ah, heard that one before as well, have we? See, the thing is, there’s an inflation of bands like these and to be honest, I have a hard time keeping them all apart. I can’t remember how many records and how many bands that play this kind of music I have listened to in my days, but one thing is for sure, there are very few that has made any impact on me at all. But I won’t dismiss any band at all without giving them a fair chance. Graveshadow hails from Sacramento, CA and was put together back in 2012 by rhythm guitarist William Walker with lead vocalist Heather Michele, lead guitarist Matt Mitchell, bassist Ben Armstrong, drummer Roman Anderson and keyboardist Valerie Hudak joining in and in 2014 the joined forces with manager Jeff Keller and the way to world domination had begun. Or something. What they did was to bring in Emil “Nightmare” Nödtveidt (Deathstars) for mixing and mastering duties and producer Matt Thomas. The thing that might set Graveshadow apart from the rest is that they are American when most of the bands that play this kind of music hail from Europe, but if the music will differ a lot because of that remains to be heard. That said, their mixer / mastering engineer is Swedish, so there is a European conection here as well. So let’s hit the lion’s den and see what these guys and girls are made of, then.
Opener “Namesake” really do differ from the rest. With heaviness, darkness and doom, the band really goes all in to prove themselves. The whole female clean vocals against male growl might feel a bit old, but over the Nightwish meets Candlemass foundation, it works like a charm. Yes, I like this one a lot. “The Roar Of Desire” holds the catchiness of bands like Within Temptation and Evanescence. The mix of those two bands and a chunk of black metal in there makes the song stand out a bit – good song. “Lycan Lust” sounds like a more aggressive and metal version of later day Nightwish and that’s a compliment, folks. The anger and aggression give the song identity and backbone! “Winter’s Come To Call” is a bit slower and darker but the melodies here are pure pop – very nice contrast. Good song. “Blink” – that features a guest vocal performance by Gamma Ray and Primal Fear vocalist Ralf Scheepers – is probably my favorite song on the record. It’s gothic, heavy, melodic with some really memorable melodies and even some progressive elements. I even hear some arrangements and melody lines that makes me think of a more modern Winger! How about that? I will probably get my ass kicked for that comment if I ever run into any of the members, but Winger are an underrated band – a brilliant band, even. “Fading” makes me think of a mix between Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation – heavy and dark, but with a catchy melody. However, it is a bit forgettable. The Lacuna Coil influence returns in “Exhumed”, but I also hear Black Sabbath and Avatarium and there are also som power metal elements. Good song, but not great. “Blood And Fire” is together with “Blink” the song that stands out the most. Here we have some melodic and gothic black metal with an evil sound and more growl than clean vocals. There is also loads of heavy metal in the song – great stuff.
To sum this review up, this album is a good one. But even though I can’t find any bad tracks on it, I have a hard time remembering any song even after a few spins, except maybe “Blink” and “Blood And Fire”. This album is one of those that are really good while listening, but afterwards you don’t remember squat and there’s really no desire to pick it up again. But I have picked it up again. And again a few times. Just because. But I still can’t hum one single melody. I dunno, I hear that Heather Michele is a great singer with a really wide range and the rest of the band are really good musicians as well. It’s tight and I have no doubt what so ever that this band loves what they do whole heartedly. Maybe I’m just the wrong guy to review this stuff, maybe another reviewer or listener thinks that my taste in music belongs where the sun don’t shine, but I just can’t hear that one thing that makes this band special. That said, this record is way better than most albums I have heard in this genre, I lose interest in most of them while listening. Maybe one day later on, I’ll pick this up, give it another spin and totally get it, wondering what I was thinking while writing this review, but as for now, I say that this is a good album, but a bit too far from great.
2. In The Roar Of Desire
3. Lycan Lust
4. Winter’s Come To Call
8. Blood And Fire