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Shadowsphere: Inferno

One of the pleasures of listening to heavy metal is the fact that there are bands from all over the world. In any given week, I may listen to work from the Scandanavia, Mexico, South America, North America, France, Germany, or Italy. The problem with this diversity is that there are far too many bands that do not find acclaim outside of their home turf. Take, for example, Portugal's Shadowsphere. For a little over ten years, these guys produced solid music (their releases include one EP and two full length CDs) that demonstrate their strong playing and good songwriting. With their third release, Inferno, Shadowsphere is hoping to expand their audience, to show the larger heavy metal world that they have something to offer.

I honestly don't know what it takes to succeed, to write the kind of album that people will embrace widely. If I did, I suppose I'd be better off writing songs or producing records. I certainly wish the best for Shadowsphere, but I'm not sure that Inferno has that magic touch, the one that will gain them a huge audience. Don't get me wrong; Inferno is a fine album, but I'm going to wait and see what else these guys do in the coming years before I listen to them consistently.

Here's what I liked: the Sweden-inspired death metal hooks and sheer sonic aggressiveness of the album. I also liked the forays into melody, particularly with the occasional addition of female vocals as a contrast to Paulo Goncalves's vocals. I was really impressed with the closing song "Alone at the end of the World" for its near-epic sense of the apocalypse and what it could be like to be all alone. There was also a melancholy quality to the instrumental (a really mellow one, to boot) entitled "The Hurt Locker."

On a more critical note, Shadowsphere has delivered an album with very few surprises. It's hard to explain what I mean by surprises--I certainly don't think bands should lie in wait for some musical scare and then pounce when the audience least expects it. There's a need, though, for bands to explore what can happen with all these textures, all these sounds. This is especially true when so many metal bands are drawing from familiar influences and developing them only so far. I find myself alternately liking the songwriting and the performance here, but I don't always know exactly how to process it against all the other bands that are doing similar things. I was also struck with how much I liked the mellower, more melodic stuff here. "The Hurt Locker," for instance, is a quiet song that I really liked. I wanted a little more of that, even if only to understand how the band thinks of these quieter moments within the context of the album.

Track Listing:
1. Inferno (Intro)
2. Within the Serpent's Grasp
3. Sworn Enemy
4. Dead Behind My Eyes
5. Suicide Reign of Salvation
6. Bullet Train
7. The Hurt Locker (Instrumental)
8. Firewalker
9. Gehenna
10. Screaming Silence
11. Alone at the end of the World

Added: June 26th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Myspace Page
Hits: 2001
Language: english

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