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Heavenwood: Abyss Masterpiece

On listening to "The Arcadia Order" which is the opening song on the fourth album from Portuguese band Heavenwood, I initially thought that I had bumped into yet another band trying desperately to follow in Nightwish's wake. Big swooping strings, thunking riffs and overblown themes abound, but as the growling vocals tear into earshot, it is clear that Heavenwood are no clones. In recent months growling vocals have become a slight bug-bear of mine, with almost every band of every genre adding them to their music, whether it needs them or not, but in the right circumstances a vocalist that can add an all too rare amount of character to the gargles and groans, really does enhance his musical surroundings and I'm pleased to say that is most definitely the case on this album.

Coming together in 1992 under the name Disgorged, this Oporto trio have had to overcome such adversity as their former bassist committing suicide, before splitting up all together in 1998 with two albums to their name. Having reconvened and in effect started over ten years later, Abyss Masterpiece is the band's second effort since that reunion and it has to be said that reasonably impressive it is too. Heavenwood manage to combine aspects from symphonic metal with doom and just the odd hint of something more "extreme". The songs are in general slow trudges through big walloping riffs that are as thick as oil and almost as sleek, but the added strings and keyboards give a more uplifting air to the music that is well counter balanced by the melodic vocal growls.

Songs such as the majestically brutal "Morning Glory Clouds (In Manus Tuas Domine)" and the brooding jab of "September Blood" show not only that Heavenwood are capable of mixing up the feel and tempo of their songs, but also that they can be bone crushingly heavy when the mood takes them. On the down side there are maybe just one or two tracks that tread water and the likes of "Winter Slave" and "Poem For Matilde" could easily have been left off the album. That said the band prove themselves as capable composers and arrangers with closing song "Her Lament" being solely strings, choral voices and keyboards and could easily have ended up as a track on the soundtrack to The Lord Of The Rings. I can't say it is how I expected the album to finish, but I'm glad it does.

Abyss Masterpiece isn't quite the triumph that its title would suggest, but it is an album full of interesting themes and brutal execution that is well worth exploring.

Track Listing
1.The Arcadia Order
2.Fading Sun
3.Like Yesterday
4.Winter Slave
5.September Blood
6.Sudden Scars
7.A Poem For Matilde
9.Once A Burden
10.Goddess Presiding Over Solitude
11.Morning Glory Clouds
12.Her Lament

Added: February 22nd 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Heavenwood MySpace
Hits: 3794
Language: english

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