October 2019 saw the release of SHADECROWN’s new album “Riven,” a slab of melodic death metal with some doom metal vibes that could only come from Finland.
Founded in 2012, SHADECROWN is a band that is influenced by such acts as SENTENCED, INSOMNIUM, SWALLOW THE SUN, and has so far released a self-titled demo (2013) followed by the EP “Chained” (2013), and the full-length debut “Agonia” (2016).
Even if “Riven” doesn’t really stray from the specifics of the genre, the music is pretty well-crafted, melodic, heavy, and could easily appeal to many fans of the above-mentioned bands. “Not Until the End” opens the album on piano notes that soon make way for heavy drums and loud, harmonizing guitars before Jari Hokka joins in with some growls and harsh vocals in the hooky chorus section, which add to the song’s dark and gloomy atmosphere. The acoustic guitar intro to “Lifelong Dying,” as well as the build-up to the music and the underlying keyboard melody, remind me of INSOMNIUM through the rhythmic section and the vocal delivery, pushing the song into a more melodic and aggressive direction. The album gains some more momentum with the groovy “Rain’s Edge” where the combination of heavy guitars, pounding drums, and beautiful piano parts balance each other out superbly, and the punchier “The Ghost I Mourn,” whose melodic guitar leads and vicious vocals add new nuances to the music. Both these tracks are highlights of the album in their own right, as far as I’m concerned.
The ethereal-sounding “Incomplete” provides a change of pace and goes in a doomier direction altogether with a bleak ambiance coming from the almost sludgy guitar melodies, sorrowful vocals (both clean and harsh), and intense backing orchestration, almost in the style of SWALLOW THE SUN’s “Firelights.” Subtle keyboard soundscapes are used on “Hate Reflected” to cut some of the tension coming from the guitars and vocals, though the guitar melody is really good and mixes quite well with the harsh vocals. Another highlight is “Divided,” a track where the mix of melodeath and doom metal is done best, as this song has atmospheric passages and heavy moments (especially vocal-wise), thus creating an ebb and flow type of movement that make the 7-minute playtime seem shorter. Flirting with Gothic metal, “Traces” features some brutal vocals atop a beautiful guitar melody, capped off by a melodic solo to close the album in style.
Looking past the feeling of déja vu one might get from the music, there’s no denying the band’s talent and passion for music. From the explosive first part to the moody second, “Riven” offers a lot of nuances to the songs, while treading familiar waters. More diversity in the songwriting department could make their next effort better.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Not Until the End
- Lifelong Dying
- Rain’s Edge
- The Ghost I Mourn
- Hate Reflected
Jari Hokka – Vocals
Joonas Vesamäki – Guitar
Tomi Tikka – Guitar
Saku Tammelin – Keyboards
Janne Salmelin – Bass & Clean vocals
Kalle Varonen – Drums