The debut CD from Norway's Chain Collector is a promising mix of melodic death and power metal, with sparkling production and cool cover artwork. Made up of members of Trail of Tears, Green Carnation, Carpathian Forest, among others, these guys have been around the scene a while and it shows. The Masquerade contains plenty of strong metal tracks, and while nothing is groundbreaking here, there's plenty to enjoy.
The vocals are especially well done, as they have Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation/Trail of Tears) on melodic clean vocals and Svenn Aksel Henriksen (Apostasy) on screaming death metal vocals. The two work well off each other, giving tracks like the punishing "Harvester" and the more melodic "Neverwhere" plenty of variety. The guitar team of Goran Bomann (Carpathian Forest, Opus Forgotten, Neon God) and Kjell Jacobsen (Neon God) lay down plenty of crunchy riffs, speedy solos, and dual harmony passages. Drummer Anders Kobro, who has played with virtually every band that the rest of the band has, and guest bassist/keyboard player Endre Kirkesola , provide the rock solid foundation that a band like this needs. Kobro especially delivers some powerful and brutal drum fills, especially on the more manic, power metal tracks like "Project Savior" and "Fallen Angel".
With the exception of the dreamy mix of crunch and progressive on "Crucifixion", or the technical and melodic prog-metal of "Winter Princess", many of the songs tend to follow a similar pattern on The Masquerade, which is why I'm deducting a half-point from what would have been a four star review. They are all solid metal songs, but after repeated listens many of the arrangements start to sound the same. I'm really getting into the effective use of vocals on this album, but I'd like to see them mix it up more and utilize these two singers like they do on the last track "Winter Princess", where Nordhus does much of the lead with Henriksen doubling up with him on the backing vocals as well as having solo spots of his own. It gives this song a different pace and tempo than most of the others which follow that Soilwork/Nightrage mix of speedy double bass, lightning riffing, and screaming vocals style, which is fine, but I think this band has more up their sleeves than just that. Chain Collector will be a band to watch out for in the years to come, that you can be sure of.
1. Hiearchy of Murder-Code of Silence
4. And Then There Was None
6. Project Savior
7. Tapping The Vein
8. Fallen Angel
9. Wicked Mask
10. Winter Princess