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Gwynbleidd: Nostalgia

In a year where the world will not see a new Opeth release, we are lucky enough to have this wonderful CD from Brooklyn's Gwynbleidd, titled Nostalgia. Effective title actually, as this New York outfit successfully brings to mind images of Opeth's first few albums (specifically Orchid, Morningrise, My Arms Your Hearse, and Still Life), as well as a touch of the more progressive side of Emperor and early Amorphis. The key here is the constant shift between brutal, complex death metal, harsh black metal, and lovely folk textures, all these elements housed within memorable songs that deliver on every level. The band is comprised of Michal (leads/rhythm guitars, clean vox), Adam (drums and percussion), Maciej (guitars/growled vox), and Jakub (bass), and needless to say Gwynbleidd have come up with a release here in Nostalgia that sounds like the work of a veteran band.

One quick look at the digipack artwork by Travis Smith, and you know these guys mean business and are after a certain metal demographic. From the opening notes of the lead off title track, any progressive death metal fan will instantly be reeled in, as jangly, lilting guitar chords strum before giving way to crushing riffs, frantic rhythms, and deep growls. At around the songs midpoint, acoustic guitars lull you into a false sense of security, before the band lurches back into metal fury mode. All the while, things remain highly melodic despite the ferocity. Mix in some clean vocal passages and chanting, and you have an amazing epic to start Nostalgia. After the brief yet lovely instrumental acoustic folk piece "Egress", the band comes back full force for the dark & moody "New Setting", complete with furious, almost black metal styled riffing over complex rhythmic structures, Marciej's evil growls really working overtime and driving the song into extreme territories. Late in the song there are some seriously heavy headbanging moments, as well as a nice atmospheric folk outro. Expect brutal death metal on the bombastic "Stormcalling", another supercharged number that also finds time to drop in a lovely acoustic section to temper the ferocity, before closing with complex guitar lines and melodic thunder. "Adrift" is another instrumental folk piece, the acoustic guitars of Michel and Marciej complex and quite lovely, and they are laced with some tasty electric passages as well. A stunning piece that will thrill you for all it's near 3 minute length. This leads into the progressive metal number "Thawing Innocence", another brooding and intricate track with plenty of death metal, folk, and prog elements. Although much of this CD will remind you of Opeth's early work, it's "Stare Into the Sun" that really hones in on the Swedes trademark sound, this one a bubbling, boiling, concoction of complex yet earthy death metal, intoxicating guitar riffs weaving around each other, crashing rhythms, and deep growls all supporting intelligent arrangements and melodies. The use of clean vocal passages on this one are a nice touch as well. The CD closes with the dramatic folk & death metal sounds of "Canvas for the Departure", complete with crushing riffing, swirling lead guitar harmonies, and some breathtaking acoustic passages.

As it turns out, Gwynbleidd's debut EP Amaranthine a few years back was just the tip of the iceberg. Nostalgia is quite simply a stunning progressive death metal release, and though some might say the band steers too close to the classic Opeth sound, this is so well done that followers of the Swedish legends will ultimately have to take notice and appreciate Nostaglia for what it is.

Track Listing
1 Nostalgia (10:05)
2 Egress (3:21)
3 New Setting (9:45)
4 Stormcalling (8:23)
5 Adrift (2:46)
6 Thawing Innocence (6:00)
7 Stare into the Sun (6:00)
8 Canvas for Departure (8:54)

Added: April 26th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 4124
Language: english

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