Catamenia – Location: Cold – 4.5/5
So after the depression of Viking Skull, I set my more recent acquisitions to shuffle to see what grabbed me. Enter Catamenia. I heard them described as melodic black metal, but this is not accurate of what this album presents me with. If we took some finntroll-esque folky passages, and placed them in a melodic black metal band with an overdose on the melodic, and garnished with the odd power metal style vocals, the result would probably sound something like this.
Once you overcome the cheesy name, you quickly realise this is band able to produce a wide variety of tones, from the catchy poweresque “Coldbound,” to the more aggressive “Tuhat Vuotta” to the oddball “Location: Cold” which combines the two in a weird blend of addictive evil, there isn’t a single weak track on this album, constantly presenting something new without compromising their core sound.
Take the opening track for example, “Tribe of Eternity” opens strongly with an epic tone before exploding into one of the most aggressive points in the album. With a kick and growl the verse gets under way in a highly melodic black metal style, until the chorus, where suddenly it turns into a far more anthemic power metal influences style. This transition is done well and doesn’t feel at all out of place.
And all this is only made all the more impressive when you consider the abilities of the musicians. No one section stands out as being done especially well. The drumming is fairly bland, the guitar work is relatively simple, and vocal work (both clean and growls) could be more aggressive/powerful respectively. Everything simply fits, it blends perfectly in a cacophony of twin guitar melody, often overlayed with keyboard whilst the vocals do their thing.
But sometimes there’s too much melody, it takes control and whilst well done, it leaves the song feeling somewhat lacking in aggression, lacking in its dark, evil tone. It is this that for me, gives most black metal its identity, and whilst many of the same techniques are presented here, the blast beats, tremolo picking and so on, I struggle to really think of this as black metal – melodic or not.
This is a band that have taken multiple influences and produced a great album, both unique and addictive, and is only really hampered by its difficulty in accurately describing them, and the lack of standout tracks.
Highlights: Tribe of Eternity, Coldbound, Location: COLD
By T. Bawden