Album Review – Charm Designer / Everlasting (2016)

An everlasting feeling of heaviness and obscurity in over 50 minutes of beautiful Doom and Gothic Metal forged in the dark flames of Colombia.

Rating4

front_cover640Although it might have taken almost 10 years for Colombian Gothic/Doom Metal act Charm Designer to release their first full-length album, entitled Everlasting, the final result is so compelling, professional and melodious it looks like these dark metallers have been doing this for ages. In its over 50 minutes of melancholy, Everlasting offers us metalheads everything we look for in obscure music, definitely putting the city of Bogotá, Colombia in the map of Gothic and Doom Metal, and obviously paving Charm Designer’s path to stardom in the always exciting underworld of Heavy Metal.

Formed in the year of 2006 and having released a demo named Manifested in 2006 and an EP named Blood sounds in 2008, Charm Designer are finally back with a new opus, having recorded Everlasting with legendary German producer Waldemar Sorychta, known for his work with Samael, Lacuna Coil, Moonspell, among other renowned bands, being the first time for him to produce a Latin American band. Featuring a beautiful artwork by Costin Chioreanu (Twilight13media), who has provided his art to bands such as Arch Enemy, Paradise Lost and Opeth, Everlasting will fulfill your needs for heaviness and heartache through its nine powerful chants, and when it’s over you’ll certainly hit play again from the beginning, feeling completely embraced by the band’s gentle darkness.

The title-track Everlasting ignites the dark flames of the album, reminding me of the latest installments by Dark Metal masters Moonspell, being heavy, dense and alluring at the same time. Lead singer/guitarist Andrés Herrera does a great job with both his growls and clean vocals a la Niilo Sevänen (Insomnium), which is also the case in the even more doom-ish and obscure The Replicant. Furthermore, this tune gets closer to the traditional Doom Metal from the UK due to its deeper growling, with drummer Diego A. Morales smashing his drum set while the bass lines by Diego M. Giorgi sound as infernal as possible.

Presenting a strong Gothic Metal/Hard Rock vein, these Colombian metallers deliver a beautiful composition full of melancholy and passion entitled Never After, another song inspired by the unique music by Moonspell and the best of the entire album in my humble opinion. Andrés is on fire with his somber vocals and powerful guitar riffs and solos, and albeit I have absolutely no idea who’s the woman doing the female vocals, she surely adds an additional layer of awesomeness to the musicality. Then we have Disruption, a feast of the most downhearted form of Doom Metal enhanced by its background keyboards and mesmerizing rhythm, where even the smoother passages offer heaviness in the form of the bass lines by Diego M.; followed by Mentors, a solid Doom Metal chant with hints of Gothic Rock where Andrés leads the sounding with his excellent riffs, thus inspiring Diego A. to increase his fierceness on drums.

CharmDesigner_03In Inertial Drain, an acoustic start grows into modern Symphonic Gothic Metal, with the Paradise Lost-inspired drumming by Diego A. and the song’s magnetic riffs enfolding the listener in an ode to grief and misery. In addition, no matter if its comfortless lyrics are screamed or darkly declaimed by Andrés, the final result is simply amazing. The next tune, Endowar, is a lot faster and more violent than most songs despite its symphonic keyboards, showcasing a great job done by Andrés who sounds like a hellish beast without exaggerating on his harsh screams.

However, it doesn’t take too long for Charm Designer to get back to what they do best, in other words, stunning Doom Metal as in the occult hymn By The Unmasked, where the whole band delivers what can be called “dark music under a starless night” (and what a beautiful guitar solo by Andrés, making this excellent tune even more enjoyable). Policy of Truth, , another tribute to the most melancholic form of heavy music, is the icing on the cake in Everlasting, bringing forward an exciting rhythm perfect for the vocal lines by Andrés, as well as more of those gorgeous (and mysterious) female vocals.

In order to truly experience the everlasting feeling of heaviness, sorrow and obscurity brought forth by Charm Designer in their brand new album, go visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Everlasting at the Inverse Records webshop, on Amazon and several other locations. Your heart and soul will never be the same after tasting the puissant Doom and Gothic Metal by this talented Colombian band, I must warn you.

Best moments of the album: Never After, Disruption and By The Unmasked.

Worst moments of the album: Mentors.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Everlasting 5:00
2. The Replicant 5:12
3. Never After 6:52
4. Disruption 6:37
5. Mentors 4:51
6. Inertial Drain 7:04
7. Endowar 4:33
8. By The Unmasked 7:41
9. Policy of Truth 4:17

Band members
Andrés Herrera – vocals, guitars
Diego M. Giorgi – bass
Diego A. Morales – drums

Additional musician
Diego A. Hernández – guitars (live)

Album Review – Arch Enemy / War Eternal (2014)

More melodic than ever, less brutal than usual: this is the new album from one of the most important Swedish bands of all time. But isn’t their music getting too melodic to the point it fails to deliver?

Rating5

CoverWhen Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy released a statement earlier this year about the unparalleled and irreplaceable diva Angela Gossow stepping down as the lead singer of the band to become their business manager, I must say I was truly shocked, not to mention I felt really worried about the future of one of my favorite bands from the past decade. However, when they announced the also amazing Alissa White-Gluz (from Canadian Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band The Agonist) as her replacement, I knew the band was going to be in very good hands, which is proven by the good War Eternal, their ninth studio album and, more important than that, the beginning of a new phase in their extensive history.

Another very significant change in the band was the departure (for the second time) of Michael’s brother, the superb guitarist Chris Amott, replaced by American guitarist Nick Cordle in 2012, because although Nick has been with the band for two years now, this is his first studio album with them. I’m a huge fan of the Amott brothers playing together, and again I was a worried about the final result in War Eternal. Guess what? Once again I was “happily wrong”, as Mr. Cordle showcases an excellent performance throughout the whole album. So this means there’s nothing wrong in War Eternal? Well, let’s say the album is far from being a failure, but it has lots of highs and lows which you’ll be able to notice as soon as you take your first listen to it.

War Eternal kicks off with the interesting intro Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor), which is the Latin for “Time Heals Nothing”, before the band strikes the listener with the reverberating havoc named Never Forgive, Never Forget. This song is way better than I expected, especially after listening to the singles released earlier this year: this is the true Melodic Death Metal we learned to love from Arch Enemy, with the always bestial riffs and solos from Mr. Michael Amott and a totally inspired Daniel Erlandsson pounding his drums. On the other hand, War Eternal shows us a more contemporary Arch Enemy, which means less brutal and more melodic than ever. Moreover, the lyrics and chorus are annoyingly cheesy (“Try to tell you what to do / They love to have control of you / Back against the wall / In danger of losing it all / Search deep inside / Remember who you are”), which is kind of the same issue found in Khaos Legions, but thanks to its traditional riffs and Alissa’s excellent performance the song is not a complete disaster.

The following track, As the Pages Burn, is the Arch Enemy most fans want for sure: it is A LOT better than “War Eternal” in terms of rhythm, lyrics and creativity, with highlights to the beautiful solos by Michael and Nick at the end; while No More Regrets is the perfect example of how Michael Amott masters the art of starting songs with quick and efficient guitar solos, and by here you’ll be able to notice Alissa won’t use her clean vocals in Arch Enemy, at least not in this album, which in my opinion is completely understandable, expected and correct. Although I’m also a fan of The Agonist, simply remember the band here is and will always be Arch Enemy.

Then we have the biggest disappointment of the entire album, the unbearable You Will Know My Name, a song that cannot be considered Arch Enemy, but a totally disposable track that sounds like a rip-off of “No Gods, No Masters” with less intensity and horrible lyrics. Fortunately, after a traditional instrumental bridge called Graveyard of Dreams, the band gets back on track with the good Stolen Life, a song that reminds me of the musicality from their last two albums, especially its heavy groove, and the even better Time Is Black, with an excellent start, lots of shredding and some keyboard parts, sounding like some of their songs from Doomsday Machine.

arch enemyThe last part of the album is a music rollercoaster that starts with On and On, which despite its very cohesive sonority, lacks a lot of creativity and ends up falling flat; Avalanche, a good song with more keyboards and quick but awesome guitar solos, which should sound a lot better if played live; and the excellent Down to Nothing, where Daniel Erlandsson is kickin’ fuckin’ ass one more time. In addition, the bad chorus prevents it from being really awesome, but it’s one of the best songs of the album anyway (especially the guitar solos). Michael & Co. still have time for the instrumental Not Long for This World, a very traditional way to end an Arch Enemy album.

One might ask why I gave it only a 3.0 if I said so many good things about the album. Well, there are two main issues for me in War Eternal, which I do not expect everyone to agree 100% but at least acknowledge them: first of all, the lyrical themes are too cheesy and shallow again. Where’s all that obscurity and violence from their old records? And secondly, although some of the songs sound very strong, there isn’t a single one with that “wow factor” found in masterpieces such as “Enemy Within”, “Nemesis”, “Diva Satanica” or “I Am Legend/Out for Blood”. It’s not Alissa’s or Nick’s fault, though, it’s the lack of brutality that bothers me in War Eternal, not to mention the fact that the whole album seems to have been done a lot faster than it should, which probably hampered more in-depth and complex compositions.

Not only that, it looks like the main goal with their two official videos so far has been to literally showcase Alissa’s physical attributes to the fans instead of focusing on the music, as they were by far the worst songs of the whole album. Alissa is extremely hot, but I’m pretty sure all Arch Enemy fans prefer a more rampant musicality than fancy music videos. At least the excellent artwork for the album, created by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu, lives up to Arch Enemy’s legacy.

To sum up, War Eternal is good, but not memorable, and I don’t believe that’s because Alissa is new to the band: she’s a superb singer and performer, and Arch Enemy couldn’t have found a better person to replace Angela. As I said a couple of times in this same review, it’s the extremely melodic (and sometimes too commercial) path the band has chosen to take that concerns me. For instance, I personally consider Johan Liiva just an average vocalist, but the music Arch Enemy used to play with him was so much more intense that lots of fans still miss him nowadays, even after the outstanding work done by Angela. I’ll keep loving Arch Enemy and headbanging to their music as always, but unfortunately most of the songs from War Eternal won’t be missed on my personal playlist in a couple of months.

Best moments of the album: Never Forgive, Never Forget, As the Pages Burn and Down to Nothing.

Worst moments of the album: War Eternal, You Will Know My Name and On and On.

Released in 2014 Century Media

Track listing
1. Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor) 1:12
2. Never Forgive, Never Forget 3:43
3. War Eternal 4:16
4. As the Pages Burn 4:01
5. No More Regrets 4:05
6. You Will Know My Name 4:37
7. Graveyard of Dreams (Instrumental) 1:10
8. Stolen Life 2:58
9. Time Is Black 5:23
10. On and On 4:04
11. Avalanche 4:38
12. Down to Nothing 3:47
13. Not Long for This World (Instrumental) 3:29

Band members
Alissa White-Gluz – vocals
Michael Amott – lead guitars
Nick Cordle – lead guitars
Sharlee D’Angelo – bass
Daniel Erlandsson – drums