Counting myself as somewhat of a fan of melodic death metal, I still find that, back when the genre was pioneered by the likes of Carcass, At the Gates, Dark Tranquility, Arch Enemy and In Flames among others, melodeath was fresh and vibrant and really one of the most creative contributions to the universe of metal at the time. But, as the years went by, the genre got watered down, as it was increasingly populated by sub par bands, many of whom thought they were playing pop music. Just like groove metal, melodeath ended up a bloated corpse, and, nowadays, the real good melodeath releases are few and far between. Fortunately, quality melodeath is still released, reminding us that there is nothing wrong with the genre as such when it isn't abused.
The Finnish band Anger Cell is one of those melodeath bands who, I think, stay true to the metal roots of melodeath. They are a band who understand that melody does not equal pop music. Thus, their debut full length album A fear Formidable is almost of the same quality as the very first releases in the genre were. That is, it features the type of uptempo melodic-but-aggressive riffage that At The Gates popularized and there are plenty of melodi guitar leads ultimately inherited from NWoBHM, and there definitely are some hard rock elements to be heard on the album to (just check out some of the riffs in 'Worth the Pain'). Prioritizing the power of the riff, most of the tracks feature crushing and aggressive riffage – some of which is groovy and some of which is thrash, and this is definitely one of the reasons why Anger Cell's music, unlike many other contemporary melodeath acts, retains the aggressive attitude originally present in the genre.
The vocals are primarily harsh and, fortunately, more akin to actual death growls than to the laughably hysterical and often annoying harsh vocals associated with deathmore and also often used in melodeath these days. Clean vocals do appear on the album in some of the choruses, which is a positive trait in this case, as it fits neatly into the overall melodic character of the album, and, most importantly, the clean vocals do not come across as a means of dragging the album in a more poppy direction.
With A Fear Formidable Anger Cell remind us that melodeath is still a worthwhile genre if in the right hands. And in Anger Cell's hands, melodeath is safe and secure. Fans of early melodeath should definitely check out this album.
1. Worth the Pain
2. Absolution Thru Vengeance
3. The Skin of My Knees
6. Constant Collision
8. Wake Up Screaming
9. Anger Cell
10. When Reason Sleeps with the Dead
11. To the Ultimate